DC man sues the lottery after incorrect numbers posted on website would have won him $340 million

Home » DC man sues the lottery after incorrect numbers posted on website would have won him $340 million

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Washington, D.C. man who thought he had won a $340 million Powerball jackpot is suing the lottery and other companies related to the Powerball game after the district’s website displayed the wrong winning numbers, which happened to match the numbers on his ticket.

John Cheeks purchased a Powerball lottery ticket at the center of the dispute on Jan. 6, 2023. Although Cheeks did not see the Powerball drawing the following day, he saw his numbers posted on the DC lottery’s website two days later.

The digits on his ticket were a combination of family birthdays and other numbers of personal significance. Speaking to NBC Washington, Cheeks said, “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.”

But then things for Cheeks took a turn for the worse when he went to the DC Lottery’s office to redeem his ticket. Court documents allege that administrators denied Cheeks’ jackpot claim, saying in a letter to him, “Petitioner’s prize claim was denied… because the ticket did not validate as a winner by the OLG’s gaming system as required by OLG regulations.”

Cheeks also said that he received an odd request from a claims staffer who allegedly told him, “Hey, this ticket is no good. Just throw it in the trash can.”

Cheeks recalled, “I gave him a stern look. I said, ‘In the trash can?’

‘Oh yeah, just throw it away. You’re not going to get paid. There’s a trash can right there.'”

Cheeks did not discard his ticket. Instead, he put it in a safe deposit box, reached out to an attorney and sued Powerball. Other defendants named in Cheeks’s lawsuit include the Multi-State Lottery Association and game contractor Taoti Enterprises.

In a court declaration, Taoti project manager Brittany Bailey said that on Jan. 6, 2023, the company’s quality assurance team was conducting testing of a task involving a changing of time zones for the Powerball website from Coordinated Universal Time to Eastern Standard Time.

At around noon that day, the Taoti quality assurance team accidentally posted test Powerball numbers on the game’s live website rather than a development environment which mimicked the site but was not viewable to the public, according to Bailey.

Bailey added that the test numbers were not the numbers drawn for the Jan. 7, 2023 Powerball drawing. They also could not have been the numbers drawn because the incorrect ones were posted on Jan. 6, a day prior to the drawing.

On Jan. 8, the incorrect lottery numbers were listed next to the actual winning numbers on the DC Lottery website. Upon realizing the error a day later, the Taoti development team took down the numbers, Bailey said.

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

He went on to add, “Even if a mistake was made, the question becomes: What do you do about that?”

Evans argued that there is precedent for such a situation. Last November, the Iowa Lottery posted the wrong Powerball numbers, citing a “human reporting error”. However, the Iowa Lottery said that the temporary winners — people who had the numbers at issue — could keep their prizes, which ranged from $4 to $200.

“A mistake was admitted to by a contractor and they paid the winnings out,” Evans said.

The Powerball jackpot currently stands at $206 million for the next drawing on Sat., Feb. 3 at 10:59 pm Eastern Time.

Powerball is played in 45 states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Drawings are Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays at 10:59 p.m. Eastern Time.  Tickets cost $2 each.

Powerball lottery results are published within minutes of the drawing at USA Mega (www.usamega.com).  The USA Mega website provides lottery players in-depth information about the United States’s two biggest multi-state lottery games, Mega Millions and Powerball.

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