After five years of searching for the mystery winner of a $14.3 million Hot Lotto jackpot, the investigation took an unexpected, dramatic turn.
In December 2010, the Hot Lotto jackpot of $14.3 million was won by a player who had bought a ticket at a Des Moines gas station. For a long time no one came forward to claim the prize, but right before the deadline expired, the lottery association finally received a jackpot claim by New York lawyer Crawford Shaw. Shaw tried claiming the prize on behalf of a corporation connected to the tax haven of Belize. When the lottery board asked Shaw to divulge the names of every person or entity ever having been in possession of the ticket, the lawyer refused and subsequently withdrew the claim altogether. This set off the alarm bells – officials are especially concerned when claimants are evasive on the issue of ticket ownership as foul play has occurred in the past. All sorts of conspiracy theories took root. Was this another case of lottery murder? Was the winner a victim of blackmail or theft? Chatter went through the roof. Issues like these are often caused when players physically own winning tickets. Dangers and mishaps have befallen past lottery winners, some of whom were lucky to escape with their lives, causing many winners to hide their winning lottery tickets in really weird places.
The lottery association started a full-scale investigation into the question why the $14.3 million jackpot was so suddenly abandoned! The winner had physically bought a ticket for his local lottery in a shop, so the authorities were able to start their investigation with relative ease. They sifted through many hours of security footage from the Des Moines gas station, checked car license plates and even analysed the buyer's voice in the video. At a full-scale public appeal last October, officials released camera stills of the mystery ticket buyer wearing a hoodie and stated that they weren't sure whether the man was a fraudster or a victim of crime. At last, a former colleague of the ticket buyer contacted the authorities. This informant shifted the investigation and soon the authorities were able to pinpoint the identity of the mysterious buyer.
The hooded winner was none other than the 51 year-old security director of the Multi-State Lottery Association in Iowa, Eddie Raymond Tipton. As a lottery association employee, Tipton had been fully aware of the fact that he was legally prohibited from participating in his own lottery. Tipton had to take steps to hide his identity to his employer and have the prize claimed on his behalf by a lawyer. If only he had played an out-of-state or overseas lottery online, then he wouldn't have been in this predicament. Iowa criminal investigators had Tipton arrested following the shocking discovery. He now faces two felony counts of fraud and is being held in Polk County Jail.
The lottery organisation's wariness can be understood as money brings out the worst in some people. Lottery tickets are available almost anywhere these days; you can buy local lottery tickets at your local lottery kiosk or you can purchase lottery tickets for the world's biggest lotteries through online lottery providers. Tipton's choice to play in Iowa seems odd; if he had played an international lottery, he wouldn't be in his current predicament.
Whichever lottery you choose to play, have fun and best of luck!
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