Washington Lottery sign

A Washington DC man is suing three entities over refusing to honor his winning Powerball ticket. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Taoti claims mistake

A Washington DC man who was led to believe he’d won a $340m lottery jackpot is suing Powerball after the game’s administrator, Taoti Enterprises, claimed his win was a mistake.

John Cheeks purchased the headline grabbing Powerball ticket on January 6, 2023 and saw his numbers – a combination of his family’s birthdays and other digits with personal significance – posted on the DC Office of Lottery and Gaming’s (OLG) website two days later.

filed a lawsuit on November 21 in the Superior Court of The District of Columbia

When Cheeks went to the OLG office to redeem his ticket, however, administrators refused his claim. In response, his attorney, Richard Evans, filed a lawsuit on November 21 in the Superior Court of The District of Columbia against Powerball and its owners, the MultiState Lottery Association and Taoti.

The wrong numbers

According to court documents, Taoti sent Cheeks a letter saying his “prize claim was denied […] because the ticket did not validate as a winner by the OLG’s gaming system as required by OLG regulations.” Taoti supposedly gave a complex account as to why it was denying Cheeks his jackpot.

The Guardian cited Taoti Project Manager Brittany Bailey as stating that on January 8 “the incorrect lottery numbers were listed next to the actual winning numbers on the DC Lottery website.” She said her firm realized the error on January 9 and the “Taoti development team took down” the misleading numbers.

These were the numbers Cheeks saw. He told NBC Washington that at the time he was a “little excited” but also calm. He took a picture of his winning numbers on the website “and went to sleep.”

Cheeks also referenced a strange request from a lottery claims worker when he went to cash his ticket. They allegedly told him his ticket was “no good” and that he should bin it. Cheeks asked the worker to repeat himself. The response was: “Just throw it away. You’re not going to get paid. There’s a trash can right there.”

An honest mistake

Cheeks’ attorney Evans told the media that he questions Taoti’s claims. “They have said that one of their contractors made a mistake… I haven’t seen the evidence to support that yet.”

Even if a mistake was made, the question becomes: What do you do about that?”

Evans added, “Even if a mistake was made, the question becomes: What do you do about that?” The lawyer even referenced a precedent for such a mistake. In November, he stated, the Iowa Lottery posted incorrect Powerball numbers and later cited a “human reporting error.”

The Iowa Lottery decided that the people who had the numerals at issue could keep their winnings. “A mistake was admitted to by a contractor and they paid the winnings out,” Evans stated.

The winnings the Iowa Lottery paid out ranged from $4 to $200, paling in comparison to Cheeks’ $340m.



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