$340 million lottery winner denied jackpot over cruel 'mistake'

$340 million lottery winner denied jackpot over cruel 'mistake'

A man who thought he’d won $340 million (around £270 million) in the lottery was left empty-handed thanks to a glitch on the game’s website.

John Cheeks, from Washington DC, bought a Powerball ticket on 6 January last year, using his family’s birth dates to select his numbers.

He missed the live prize draw, which took place the following day, but on 8 January he checked the website.

Cheeks was stunned to see his winning numbers there on the screen, leading him to believe that he was now a multimillionaire.

The entrepreneur told local broadcaster NBC4 that he took a photo of the webpage, which displayed his numbers for three days.

However, when he went to redeem his ticket at a licensed retailer on 10 January, he discovered that the numbers on the website – the ones on his ticket – didn’t match those which were drawn during the live Powerball broadcast.

Cheeks' numbers matched those displayed on the lottery website(NBC4)

Cheeks said he then went to the DC Office of Lottery and Gaming to check if he was still eligible for the prize but he was soundly rejected.

He said one worker told him: “This ticket is no good, just throw it in the trash can.’”

Understandably, Cheeks wasn’t impressed by this instruction.

“I gave him a stern look. I said, ‘In the trash can?’” he recalled. “‘Oh yeah, just throw it away. You’re not gonna get paid. There’s a trash can right there.’”

Cheeks has since placed the ticket in a safety deposit box and is now suing Powerball and the DC Lottery.

His lawyer, Richard Evans, said Cheeks was eventually told that Taoti Enterprises — an advertising agency that manages the DC Lottery’s website — had made a “mistake” and posted the wrong numbers.

“They have said that one of their contractors made a mistake,” Evans told NBC4. “I haven’t seen the evidence to support that yet.”

Evans then noted that “even if a mistake was made”, Cheeks deserved some sort of resolution. After all, for days he was led to believe that he’d won a nine-figure sum.

Nevertheless, because neither Cheeks, nor anyone else, claimed the 6 January prize, the jackpot ended up growing to a whopping $754.6 million (around £598 million).

This was then scooped by a ticket holder in Washington on 6 February.

DC man suing Powerball and DC Lottery | NBC4

Still, Cheeks isn’t the only person to fall foul of errors in the game.

In November last year, the Iowa lottery showed the wrong numbers on its website for more than six hours following a prize draw.

Officials blamed this on a “human reporting error”. Nevertheless, claimants were able to take home their prizes, which ranged from $4 (£3) to $200 ($158), according to Fox 9.

It’s not quite $340 million though, is it?

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