Man sues Powerball after being told his $340M jackpot win was an error

A man in D.C. was elated to see his Powerball ticket matched the winning numbers posted online. Turns out, those weren't the numbers that were drawn.

Powerball logo on a screen
Keith Srakocic / AP

A man is suing the organizers of Powerball after being told what he thought was a $340 million jackpot win was an error.

John Cheeks, from Washington, D.C., had a ticket that matched all six winning numbers on Powerball's website from a Jan. 7 drawing. He had seen the numbers the following morning online, and went "numb" with the realization that he'd won, he told BBC.

When Cheeks went to claim his $340 million prize, he was told it was denied, according to court documents. 

"One of the claims agents told me my ticket was no good, just to throw it in the trash can," he told BBC.

He filed a complaint with the district's Office of Lottery and Gaming, but was denied again.

Turns out, the numbers that appeared online were not those that were picked in the drawing.

Taoti Enterprises, a digital agency contracted by the DC Lottery, said in a declaration that it accidentally posted test numbers to Powerball's website, rather than a test site. The company said it posted the numbers the day before the drawing, and after the drawing, the correct set of winning numbers appeared alongside the ones posted in error.

"These test numbers were not the numbers drawn for the January 7, 2023 Powerball drawing and could not have been the numbers drawn because the incorrect numbers were posted on January 6, 2023, the day before the drawing," said the company.

Taoti said it removed the numbers on Jan. 9 upon realizing the error.

In the lawsuit, Cheeks' lawyers accuse the company of using techniques to scrub the numbers without a public service announcement.

Taoti said it has "implemented measures to prevent team members from inadvertently publishing information in the live environment again."

Cheeks' attorney Rick Evans told CBS News that the lawsuit "raises critical questions about the integrity and accountability of lottery operations and the safeguards — or lack thereof — against the type of errors that Powerball and the DC Lottery admit occurred in this case."

Cheeks is seeking the estimated jackpot value of $340 million in compensation, plus other damages and costs, in addition to attorney fees. He is requesting a jury trial.

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