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DC Man Enters Legal Battle with Lottery Over $340 Million Prize Claim Due to Website Error

DC Man Enters Legal Battle with Lottery Over $340 Million Prize Claim Due to Website Error

Monday, March 4, 2024

In a twist that seems like it could be straight out of a comedy sketch, a man from Washington, D.C., is embroiled in a legal battle with the lottery. Believing to have won a staggering $340 million in the Powerball jackpot, only to find out a website error had falsely raised his hopes, encapsulates a series of unfortunate events.

John Cheeks, the man caught in this bizarre scenario, bought his potentially life-changing Powerball ticket on January 6, 2023. Rather than watching the draw live, Cheeks checked the DC lottery's website a couple of days later, finding to his disbelief that the numbers— a mix of family birthdays and personally significant figures—appeared to be the winning combination.

Recounting to NBC Washington, Cheeks explained his subdued reaction, "I got a little excited, but I didn't shout, I didn't scream. I just politely called a friend. I took a picture as he recommended, and that was it. I went to sleep."

However, Cheeks's dream quickly soured when he attempted to claim his prize at the DC Lottery office. There, he was informed via a letter that his ticket was invalid per the regulations, as it did not match the official winning numbers validated by the lottery's gaming system.

The situation took an even more Kafkaesque turn when a claims staffer suggested Cheeks simply throw his ticket away, advice he wisely ignored. Instead, Cheeks secured his ticket in a safe deposit box, lawyered up, and initiated legal action against Powerball, along with the Multi-State Lottery Association and Taoti Enterprises, a contractor involved in the mishap.

Taoti's project manager, Brittany Bailey, disclosed in a court declaration that the mix-up occurred during a time zone adjustment test on the Powerball website, leading to the accidental publication of incorrect numbers on the live site instead of a private development environment. These false numbers were posted a day before the actual draw and were corrected shortly after the mistake was realized.

Despite the explanation, Cheeks's attorney, Richard Evans, remains skeptical, highlighting the lack of evidence provided to support Taoti's claim. Evans pointed to a similar incident in Iowa, where a reporting error led to incorrect numbers being published, yet the lottery honored the prizes for the mistaken winners, raising questions about the appropriate response to such errors.

As this legal drama unfolds, the Powerball jackpot continues to climb, now sitting at $206 million for the upcoming draw. Powerball is available in 45 states, including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, with draws three times a week. For those looking to stay updated on lottery results, USA Mega offers comprehensive information on America's biggest lottery games

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