Ticket bought online; Lottery withholds winner's name for security reasons
BEND, Ore. — For the first known time in the Oregon Lottery's 30-year history, the ticket for a winning big jackpot has been sold through an international online lottery ticket sales site — and the $6.4 million prize goes to an Iraqi national whose ticket was bought in Bend, and whose name won't be revealed in order to protect him from danger in his homeland, officials confirmed Wednesday.
"We sell a lot of megabucks tickets, they come in with hands full of them," said Judy Bell-Putis, owner of Binky's on Southeast Third Street in Bend.
One of those tickets turned out to crack the jackpot.
"That doesn't happen very often, so it was exciting for us to be sold here," Bell-Putis said Wednesday.
On Aug. 24, theLotter.com hired someone go to Binky's, a deli and lottery ticket sales outlet, and buy a Megabucks ticket on behalf of a Website customer, who as it turned out is an Iraqi national.
No winner came forward until Dec. 1, when the man walked into the Oregon Lottery's Salem headquarters to claim his prize — and to spark a round of legal inquiry about the unique (to this point) circumstances of the big win.
"This is absolutely unprecedented for the Oregon Lottery," said Chuck Baumann, lottery spokesman.
Baumann said Wednesday that such online sales are legal in this case, though the lottery itself does not sell tickets online.
Rather than a lump-sum payment, the winner chose to take his payout over 20 years. The agency made the first payment of $256,000 last week (after withholding income taxes, as is the typical procedure). The Megabucks cash lump sum payment would have been $3.2 million — half the jackpot amount, before taxes are paid.
Lottery officials said they sought legal advice and were told the purchaser did nothing wrong and he should be paid. But the lottery's own Website notes that it's a murky issue: "Internet wagering is a complex issue involving both state and federal law, as well as a number of regulatory, technological and security challenges."
Lottery rules also state that the winning ticketholder's name is public record, but the winner in this case asked that his name be withheld.
The winner is an Iraqi Kurd living in Baghdad. After traveling from the Mideast, the man strolled into lottery headquarters in Salem on Dec. 1 with little advance notice and presented the winning ticket.
While the Oregon Lottery doesn't sell tickets online, Lottery Director Jack Roberts said he was advised that the man didn't do anything wrong and should get his winnings. The man was also able to persuade lottery officials not to release his name, although it is a public record under Oregon law.
"In this case, I made the decision based on talking to the guy," said Roberts. "I do believe that there is a personal safety risk to him and his family... I would hope that people would respect the reasons for not giving the name. It's not going to mean anything to them, but it could to someone halfway around the world."
Roberts said the man — described as being in his 40s, personable and speaking relatively good English — made a convincing case that he and his family could be at risk of being killed or kidnapped if it was known that he had come into a large sum of money. Baghdad is one of the world's most dangerous cities, and an ethnic Kurd can stand out in a city dominated by Shiites.
theLotter.com, based in Israel, allows customers to buy lottery tickets from all over the world.
According to website's FAQ page, the site has a London mailing address and The Lotter Enterprises Ltd. is registered in Belize. It says all prizes are commission-free, though it charges a hefty fee for the initial ticket purchase — $3 worth of Megabucks tickets cost $9 — and if one wins a jackpot, "theLotter will fly you to the country" where it happened, "our local office representative will hand you your winning ticket" and will tell you how to claim the prize.
With that kind of system, Oregon Lottery officials acknowledge there's no way of really knowing if it's the first jackpot won through an online site, only that it's the first they they were informed of such, and in very unusual circumstances.
While Bell-Putis and her son were hoping to have the winning ticket themselves, selling the ticket might have been the next best thing for them.
Binky's gets a "selling bonus," as the lottery's contract with retailers stipulates, of 1 percent of the prize, up to $100,000 — so in this case, the deli's bonus is $64,000, Baumann said.
"We're glad to have it," Bell-Putis said. "This is a real small store here."
This is great free publicity for THAT COMPANY . I don't care if the winner is from Iraq or Syria, so far as that money is not used to support Jihadists or any other form of terrorism.
I always wondered if those on-line lottery web sights are real or just rip offs..
Congrats to the winner Stay safe and enjoy.
I quit playing the lottery online YESTERDAY!!!! Had a miserable morning feeling like my win may never come......and now THIS story!!!!! Thanks for the encouragement not to stop dreaming. I am a winner and that settles it!!!!
Congrats Man :-)
So, if they will let this guy stay anonymous because the win might put him in danger, why won't they extend the same courtesy to US???
VERY GOOD POINT TIALUVELOTTO
I DPNT CARE WHICH COUNTRY HE IS FROM when the citizens passed the lottery in THEIR STATE it was, I BET, it was for OREGON CITIZENS..the fact is he an IRAQI does make a difference..being that most of those people in Iraq and Syria and a host of others over there hates AMERICANS , I would say it make a very big <snip> difference...
what if it turned out to be a member of ISIS and it was a POWERBALL JACKPOT worth 200 or 300 million dollars...they could buy any amount of arms in the world with that money..
MAYBE..this will be a good thing and every lottery state passes a law saying you have to be a UNITED STATES CITIZEN from now on...!!!!!!
I think the bigger worry isn't this guy with a measly 6.4 million. It's the US govt. who has been funding and training these so called rebels to the tunes of BILLIONS!
Yeah and our friggin RETARDED FEDERAL GOVERNMENT did an investigation after a little digging into the truth on the CIA for giving away 12 billion dollars...THATS RIGHT..I HEARD 12 BILLION DOLLARS during the so called investigation...those friggin idiots just gave away 12 billion dollars to those idiots over there..and I bet a large portion of that money made it to the same people to make IED'S and bought plenty of ak47's and only God knows what else was bought...do you have any idea what 12 Billion dollars could have done here at home...It could have PROBABLY got at least half the states out of financial debt and done the other half the following year...noooo they would rather give that money to a bunch friggin idiots who hate our ass...
I agree he may or maynot be in danger if his name gets out but if the rules for this game and other games, state. name and picture will be posted of winners then all should be held to these rules. betting if he was from USA would not be allowed to skirt around this rule. I'm not against anyone playing and winning but should be the rules apply to ALL that play, there were players in this country that lost lives do to lottery winnings.
But: What are the chances of that?
Because the Government of the people, by the people, and for the people has perished...
I don't play any of the Oregon Lottery games so it doesn't matters to me what they do. In Ohio some winners are choosing to use a trust to claim their winnings which has the same results.
Good for a few kalashnikovs and belts.
They are real!
i know someone who plays!