Man suing lottery after being told $340million jackpot win was an error

American John Cheeks felt “numb” when he saw Powerball’s winning numbers last year (Bloomberg via Getty Images)
American John Cheeks felt “numb” when he saw Powerball’s winning numbers last year (Bloomberg via Getty Images)

An American man has sued the lottery after being told his $340 million (£270 million) win was a mistake.

John Cheeks, from Washington DC, felt “numb” when he first saw Powerball’s winning numbers on January 6 last year.

But when he presented his ticket to the Office of Lottery and Gaming (OLG), his claim was denied.

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

Instead, Mr Cheeks kept the possibly lucky ticket and found a lawyer.

He is now suing the lottery for the amount of the Powerball jackpot, plus the interest he would have earned on it per day - totalling $340m.

Court documents show Powerball and a lottery contractor, the DC-based Taoti Enterprises, believe the issue was caused by a technical error.

A Taoti employee said a quality assurance team was running tests on the website the day Mr Cheeks bought his ticket.

A set of test numbers matching Mr Cheeks were posted on the website "accidentally", according to court documents.

The numbers remained online until January 9, three days later.

The employee said the numbers posted online did not match the numbers that were picked out in the last lottery draw.

Mr Cheeks is suing on eight separate counts, including breach of contract, negligence, infliction of emotional distress. and fraud.

His lawyer, Richard Evans, has argued in court documents he is entitled to the “entire jackpot” because the winning numbers matched Mr Cheeks’.

If not Mr Evans said Mr Cheeks should be entitled to damages for the "gross negligence" of the lottery in posting the wrong lottery numbers.

The lawyer told the BBC: "This 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 contend occurred in this case.

"This is not merely about numbers on a website; it's about the reliability of institutions that promise life-changing opportunities, while heavily profiting in the process."

Mr Cheeks added "I know the justice system will prevail" explaining that the lottery winnings would have been life-changing for him and his family.

If he wins, he plans to open a home trust bank, meant to assist aspiring homeowners.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for February 23.

The odds of winning the jackpot are around one in 292.2 million.

Neither Powerball or Taoti responded when the BBC asked them for comment.