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Man sues Powerball organizers for $340 million after his lottery numbers mistakenly posted on website

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A man in Washington, D.C., is suing the organizers of the Powerball lottery after he woke up to what he thought was news that he had the winning numbers – only to find out the wrong numbers were accidentally posted on the lottery's website.

Plaintiff John Cheeks chose the numbers 7, 15, 23, 32 and 40 with a Powerball number of 2.  

On Jan. 7, 2023, the D.C. Lottery's "winning numbers," posted on its website, matched the ones Cheeks had: 7, 15, 23, 32 and 40 with a yellow Powerball number of 2, the suit said. In the early morning hours of Jan. 8, Cheeks saw the numbers and thought he'd won.

The prize was an estimated $340 million, but when Cheeks went to redeem his ticket, he was told it was denied, according to a lawsuit filed in the Superior Court of Washington, D.C. 

Cheeks filed a complaint with the district's Office of Lottery and Gaming but was denied again, according to the suit. During a hearing that Cheeks requested, Taoti, the company that operates the D.C. Lottery website, said it accidentally posted Cheeks' winning numbers to the site and that they weren't removed until three days later, on Jan. 9.

The executive director of the OLG backed up the company's claims and denied Cheeks his win, according to the suit. 

"Because the winning numbers on the D.C. Lottery website matched the numbers on the Plaintiff's Powerball lottery ticket, the Plaintiff is entitled to the entire jackpot that was then available," Cheeks' lawyers argue in the suit. "This Court should enforce that prize."

Cheeks' lawyers argue that if the court rules that he didn't win the jackpot, he is still entitled to damages for the defendants' "gross negligence" for posting the mistaken numbers, not correcting them for days, not issuing a public correction and trying to cover up the error and deny payments.

Cheeks' lawyers also claim that the defendants, who include D.C. officials, OLG, Taoti, the Multi State Lottery Association and Powerball, continued to promote the jackpot after Cheeks' numbers were posted to "increase ticket sales and revenue." 

CBS News has reached out to the defendants, who have filed a motion to dismiss the case. A lawyer for Taoti declined to provide further comment. 

Cheeks is seeking $340 million in compensatory damages, any other relief the court deems appropriate, plus other damages, costs and attorney fees. He is asking for a jury trial. 

In a statement to CBS News, Cheeks' attorney Rick Evans said 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."

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