Powerball Player's $340M Jackpot Dream Shattered by Website 'Error'

Powerball Player's $340M Jackpot Dream Shattered by Website 'Error'
A customer receives Powerball tickets from a clerk at a 7-Eleven store | Photo by Joshua Lott | Getty Images

The allure of winning the lottery is irresistible, promising a life-changing windfall with just the right combination of numbers. For John Cheeks, this dream seemed within reach when he checked the numbers for the Powerball draw on January 8, 2023. What appeared to be a stroke of luck quickly turned into a nightmare when he discovered that the $340 million jackpot he thought he had won, he was not going to receive.

Image Source: Facebook | NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt
Image Source: Facebook | NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt

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According to Cheeks, he purchased a ticket for the Powerball draw, selecting numbers that held personal significance, including family birthdays. His excitement peaked when he saw what he believed to be his winning numbers displayed on the DC Lottery website. He then attempted to claim his supposed winnings, only to be met with disappointment and disbelief.

Cheeks was allegedly informed by a lottery employee that his ticket was invalid and advised to discard it. "Hey, this ticket is no good. Just throw it in the trash can," he said. Cheeks, however, sought legal counsel, determined to pursue justice.

Powerball tickets await players at Cumberland Farms | Getty Images | Photo by William Thomas Cain
Image Source: Powerball tickets await players at Cumberland Farms | Getty Images | Photo by William Thomas Cain

The crux of Cheeks' legal action revolves around his assertion that a contractor responsible for managing the DC Lottery website, Washington-based Taoti Enterprises, erroneously published the wrong numbers, leading to confusion and subsequent disappointment.

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His lawyer, Richard Evans, emphasizes the significance of accountability in such circumstances, saying, "Even if a mistake was made, the question becomes: What do you do about that? There is a precedent for this, a similar case that happened in Iowa, where a mistake was admitted to by a contractor and they paid the winnings out."

In that particular incident, Powerball losers found themselves unexpectedly in luck for about seven hours when the state’s lottery erroneously posted the wrong winning numbers for the game. Lottery officials attributed the mishap to an unspecified "human reporting error," which led to the posting of incorrect numbers for Powerball drawing.

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The inaccurate numbers were displayed on the Iowa Lottery’s website around 12:30 a.m., and it wasn't until 7:15 a.m. that the error was noticed, prompting the removal of the numbers and the suspension of payouts. Those fortunate enough to have cashed in a winning ticket during the brief window were permitted to keep their winnings, while those with the correct numbers, a total of 3,998 people claimed prizes, ranging from $4 to $200.

A customer at a 7-Eleven store checks the numbers on his Powerball lottery ticket | Getty Images | Photo by Scott Olson
Image Source: A customer at a 7-Eleven store checks the numbers on his Powerball lottery ticket | Getty Images | Photo by Scott Olson

In response to Cheeks' legal action, Powerball, the Multi-State Lottery Association, Taoti Enterprises, and relevant government entities have been approached for comment, signaling the gravity of the allegations and the need for a thorough investigation into the matter.

Taoti Enterprises, which has managed the DC Lottery website since 2022, faces scrutiny over its role in ensuring the accuracy of lottery information and the implications of any lapses in judgment or oversight.

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