Richard Termite Allender doesnt know if his ticket had the winning Powerball numbers on March 12, but he already feels like he won the lottery.
After a six-month battle, the State Lottery Commission of Indiana agreed to release the time the winning ticket was purchased at Joes Junction in Trafalgar.
Thats important to Mr. Allender because he has the stores timed security video and hopes to recognize the winner so the prize can be claimed.
The lottery commission succumbed to Mr. Allenders request after the states public access counselor said it violated the Indiana Access to Public Records Act.
The actual time that a ticket was sold does not constitute technical or administrative information that would jeopardize that system, wrote Sandra Barger, acting public access counselor, in her decision. Revealing the actual time that the winning lottery ticket was sold reveals nothing about the process, manner or system by which the commission determines the time the winning lottery ticket was sold.
However, Hoosier Lottery Director Jack Ross, said he disagrees with the legal basis for the decision.
We think the opinion is wrong. Its wrong on the law. We are adamant about that, but we will give Mr. Allender that particular piece of information, Mr. Ross said. We disagree. Its wrong on the law, theres no question in our minds.
When Mr. Allender learned of the commissions decision Friday afternoon, August 22, he was surprised that he won the battle.
I think thats great news that will keep me from having to sue them, Mr. Allender said. If its true and they give us the number and we find the winner, then I think its great. But Im not holding my breath yet. It bothers me because they can stall us until after the deadline.
Mr. Ross said his office was attempting to relay the information to Mr. Allender and his attorney Friday, and a letter is going out in the mail today.
While Mr. Allender hopes he has blazed a trail for other potential lottery winners who lose their tickets, Mr. Ross said he doesnt want this to become an everyday occurrence for his office.
I hope it sets no precedence, because I believe its wrong on the law, Mr. Ross said. It compromises our ability to determine if a player who does not have a ticket really has a claim to a prize... Its unfortunate for those people who dont have tickets. Because now that will not be something that they can tell us, which will convince us that they have a winning ticket. They wont be able to do that anymore, because at least in this case that information is public.
Even if Mr. Allender isnt the winner, he believes he will be able to find the winner and make some person happy.
Im excited that the victory is on behalf of the people, because now some of the real evidence can come out to light that I believe the American people should know, he said. So when somebody needs to ask for information, they now know that they have a right to do it without being just denied and shoved off.
He added that he and his family are excited about the small victory.
I now believe, again, in the system... It just makes me so happy. I knew I was barking up a big tree, Mr. Allender said. This shows even though the Powerball has so much power, the state of Indiana agreed with it (his claim). That makes me feel good about the justice system, it really does. Im like the little avenger.
Mr. Ross said once the time is released, he would be willing to look at Mr. Allenders tape to determine a winner.
We would be willing to look at as we always have to look at whatever evidence (he has), Mr. Ross said, explaining that the security picture may not be clear enough to reveal a winner. I, as always, will look at the evidence presented. If we have not paid a winner that actually had a ticket, then we will follow our process and pay them if they present substantial evidence.
If someone isnt declared a winner after the tape and time are compared, Mr. Allender said he would do whatever it takes and dont quit, to find the winner.
Well find the winner, but now its another battle ahead of us, he said. If I didnt have that video, I wouldnt be so excited. But that video is the clincher. Whether I win or not, some family out there will get their money.
Mr. Ross said he has to rely on the process set forth in state legislature.
The law says we are supposed to pay people who have winning tickets. So, first and foremost, they should have a ticket, he said. If they dont have a ticket, they can make a claim within the 180 days and then if nobody else claims that prize during that 180-day period we will investigate the evidence that they present to us to try to convince us that they are the one that had that ticket.
Mr. Allenders saga began when he bought lottery tickets at Joes Junction, just like he does every day. The only difference was that he bought two Powerball tickets instead of one, as well as several other tickets for the lotterys daily contests.
Mr. Allender took the tickets home, put one Powerball ticket behind a picture of his mom and dad for good luck and threw the losing daily tickets and other Powerball entry in the trash.
Later that day, Joes Junction had a $100,000 winner.
Since no one has come forward to claim the prize, Mr. Allender thinks he threw away the winning ticket.
In his quest to find the truth, Mr. Allender hired investigators and secured the surveillance camera videotape from the convenience store, which will pinpoint the exact time of each lottery ticket purchased, he said.
After repeated correspondence between attorneys, Mr. Allender finally pleaded his case to the public access counselor, who agreed with him.
As of late Monday afternoon, August 25, Mr. Allender did not report having the time from the lottery commission.