Man Sues DC Lottery for $340M Jackpot Mishap

The day after the drawing on January 7, 2023, John Cheeks checked his Powerball numbers and discovered that, with a $340 million prize up for grabs, they were the winning combination on the DC Lottery website. The DC guy tells NBC Washington, "I got a bit agitated, but I did not yell, I did not scream."

After making a friend's recommendation, he snapped a photo and that was all, he writes. I turned in for the night." Cheeks is suing for what he claims are his legal prizes, mistake or not, even though lottery officials now claim the numbers displayed on the internet in error.

Cheeks claims in his grievance that he was rejected when he tried to redeem his ticket a few days later at a nearby store. He states that a claims employee at the DC Office of Lottery and Gaming advised him to discard the ticket in the same manner. Cheeks' ticket was rejected because it did not "validate as a winner by the OLG's gaming system as required by OLG standards," according to a letter from lottery administrators that was included in court records, according to the Guardian.

Richard Evans, Cheeks's attorney, claims that Taoti Enterprises, a contractor listed in Cheeks' lawsuit along with Powerball and the DC Lottery, ultimately informed his client that Taoti had inadvertently uploaded the incorrect winning numbers on the lottery's website.

In a court statement, Taoti's Brittany Bailey said that employees were testing a job that was completed in many time zones and that the day before the drawing, they had uploaded fictitious winning numbers to what they believed to be a staging area that was not visible to the general public. They had uploaded it on the official DC Lottery website instead. Jan. 9 saw the removal of the incorrect numbers, according to Bailey.

Evans says, according to NBC: "Even if anything goes wrong, the issue is what to do about it."

The lawyer references an analogous example from Iowa, but with much less money: last October, the Iowa Lottery announced the incorrect winning numbers, but the winners were nevertheless allowed to retain their awards, which ranged from $4 to $200. Evans says, "There is a precedence for this... where a contractor acknowledged a mistake and paid out the money."


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