$340 Million Lottery Winner Sues Powerball When They Revoke Win

By: Julia Mehalko | Published: Mar 01, 2024

John Cheeks is suing the DC Lottery after claiming to have won a $340 million Powerball. According to the DC Lottery, the numbers posted online were posted by mistake, and they were not the real numbers of the Powerball winner. Therefore, Cheeks did not win.

However, Cheeks is saying that he saw his numbers on the website and should be declared the winner. Cheeks has filed his lawsuit in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

Cheeks Says He Won in January 2023

For the Powerball on January 6, 2023, John Cheeks bought two rows of numbers and spent $6 on the lottery. On the Powerball drawing on January 7, Cheeks went online and saw two sets of numbers for the lottery winner.

A person holding many lottery tickets in their hand.

Source: Erik Mclean/Unsplash

He quickly realized that he had one of those sets of numbers. Understandably, he immediately thought that he had won.

Shock Upon Winning the Lottery

Upon thinking he won, Cheeks didn’t quite know what to do. “I didn’t shout or scream,” he said to NPR. “I just called my longtime friend.”

A close-up view of a bunch of $100 spread out on the surface.

Source: Giorgio Trovato/Unsplash

Cheeks’ friend told him to take a picture of the screen and his Powerball ticket. He did this — and this photo is now being used as evidence in his court case against the DC Lottery.

Cheeks Used Numbers Close to Him

These weren’t just random numbers that Cheeks chose upon buying his Powerball tickets. These numbers were meaningful to him in various ways.

A blurry photo of numbered balls used for the lottery as they fall to the ground.

Source: dylan nolte/Unsplash

According to Cheeks, the numbers were combinations of regular digits alongside some of his family members’ birth dates. The photo of the website — and his Powerball tickets — reflect these significant numbers.

Cheeks Went to Redeem $340 Million

Upon winning, Cheeks went down to redeem the money he believed he had won — a whopping $340 million. However, he was repeatedly rejected from receiving his prize, as they told him he had the wrong numbers.

A person in black gloves holding a lottery ticket.

Source: Ryan Brooklyn/Unsplash

Cheeks was at first confused about this, because he had seen the winning numbers on the DC Lottery website. Finally, the D.C. Office of Lottery and Gaming admitted to him that these numbers were posted online mistakenly. They were not the real winning numbers.

Cheeks Quickly Took Legal Action

Upon being denied what he believed was the money he won, Cheeks quickly filed a lawsuit against a few different groups attached to the Powerball in Washington, D.C. In his legal requests, he is asking for the $340 million he won, as well as interest and damages.

A close-up view of a historic courthouse’s columns.

Source: Colin Lloyd/Unsplash

After first being denied his winnings, Cheeks filed his first lawsuit two days later. He then filed an amended lawsuit in November 2023.


Why These Incorrect Numbers Appeared Online

Through these legal proceedings, some information about how incorrect Powerball winning numbers could’ve appeared online has emerged. According to Taoti Enterprises, a contractor of the DC Lottery, these numbers were “accidentally” posted.

Three black and white numbered lottery balls on a wooden surface.

Source: ChiniGaray/Pixabay

Taoti also said that these numbers were a part of a quality assurance test. They were only supposed to appear on a test site, not on the actual Powerball site.


Incorrect Numbers Were Not Removed Immediately

Taoti published these incorrect Powerball numbers — and then didn’t realize that they had done so. According to court documents, this mistake was not rectified until three days after these inaccurate numbers went live on the site.

A person types on a laptop keyboard while using the computer.

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As a result, both the real Powerball winning numbers and these incorrect ones were published side by side for a while. It was allegedly during this time that Cheeks went on the website.


The Integrity of Lottery Organizations

Richard W. Evans, Cheeks’ lawyer, said that the DC Lottery’s integrity is being questioned, thanks to this mistake. According to Evans, this lawsuit raises 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.”

A bunch of numbered lottery balls on a mirrored surface and a blue background.

Source: Alejandro Garay/Unsplash

Evans argues that the DC Lottery must be challenged on this. He also says his case has precedent, as previous lottery winners have been able to cash out when wrong numbers were posted.


Cheeks Says He Wants Fairness

Thanks to these cases that happened previously, Cheeks believes that fairness is the answer. He believes that he won — and that means he should be given his winnings.

A person holding a lot of $100 bills in their hands.

Source: Viacheslav Bublyk/Unsplash

“You know, we have to create fairness in the game. A win is a win,” Cheeks explained. “I’m just a customer who purchased those tickets. That’s all.”


DC Lottery Responses

While DC Lottery as a whole has not publicly responded to this case recently, Taoti Enterprises has. According to Taoti, there is a disclaimer on the website that says it is not “the final authority” for the Powerball drawing.

A bunch of numbered lottery bingo balls on a mirrored surface.

Source: ChiniGaray/Pixabay

Taoti also said that the real winning numbers were not the ones that Cheeks had drawn, as they did not match what was drawn in the televised event on January 7.


Taoti Alleges Cheeks’ Claims Are Fraudulent

In December, Taoti alleged that Cheeks’ claims of winning the Powerball were “fraudulent.” They claimed that there was no way he could have won the Powerball — and then insinuated he had been a bad actor from the get-go.

A close-up view of $100 bills in black and white.

Source: Pepi Stojanovski/Unsplash

Taoti said that Cheeks “purchased the alleged winning Powerball ticket using errant numbers mistakenly posted on the website in advance of the actual Powerball drawing.”