You likely have heard by now that there’s a new development in the long-running investigation into the Hot Lotto mystery here in Iowa. The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation has released surveillance-camera footage of the jackpot-winning ticket being purchased back in December 2010 in an attempt to identify the man buying the ticket.
The Iowa Lottery remains fully supportive of the efforts by the DCI in this case. We continue to provide as much information and help we can as we partner with them in this investigation.
After Hexham Investments Trust, the entity with ties to the country of Belize, withdrew its claim to this jackpot back in January 2012, the money from the jackpot was returned to the lotteries in the Hot Lotto game in proportion to the percentage of sales from each state. You’ll likely remember that the Iowa Lottery gave away its share of that money in the “Mystery Millionaire” promotion that concluded with a huge prize give-away at the 2012 Iowa State Fair. It was incredibly fun to see the prize money ultimately wind up with players right here in Iowa. That’s how the process is supposed to work!
This has been – and continues to be – one of the biggest lottery mysteries in the country, likely even the world. It’s certainly the strangest situation we can recall in our lottery’s 29-year history. We know from the hundreds of contacts we’ve received since this jackpot-winning ticket was purchased back in December 2010 that there’s intense interest in this situation. We believe this is the largest lottery jackpot ever claimed and then withdrawn.
You’ll likely remember that the winning ticket in this case was presented to the lottery with less than two hours to go before the prize-claim period would have expired in December 2011. But we never were provided with the basic information necessary to confirm that the winning ticket was legally purchased, legally possessed and legally presented.
It appears that a person or a group of people may have attempted to commit fraud against the lottery and the state of Iowa. And while there was $16.5 million involved in this particular jackpot, the prizes in some of our other games obviously have been many times that amount.
Know this: We will continue to ensure that we have systems in place to protect the lottery and its resources against fraud attempts. We remain ever cognizant of our duty to protect the integrity of the Iowa Lottery and its games.