| 18.9°C Dublin

Lottery chief held in riddle of unclaimed €19m win

Close

(Stock image)

(Stock image)

AFP/Getty Images

(Stock image)

An American lottery employee has been arrested in the latest twist of the strange case of an unclaimed $14.3m (€19m) lottery jackpot.

The winning ticket in the Iowa lottery was sold to an unknown man at a petrol station in December 2010 but for an entire year no one stepped forward to claim the fortune.

Just minutes before the one-year deadline in 2011, a New York lawyer arrived in Iowa with the winning ticket and said the money belonged to an unnamed client.

However, Iowa lottery officials were immediately suspicious and the lawyer soon withdrew his claim, meaning that the money was forfeited.

Then soon after, video footage of the man who bought the winning ticket was released and the public was asked to help identify him.

Delay

More than three years after the incident, police have now arrested Eddie Tipton (51), the security director of the Iowa-based Multi-State Lottery Association, who they say was the man in the footage.

Mr Tipton had access to confidential information about the running of the lottery and was therefore banned from participating or winning.

But police are not saying whether they believe he used his position to somehow manipulate the system to ensure that he was able to buy the winning ticket.

The fraud charges related instead to allegations that he bought the ticket when he was not allowed to and that he devised a complex scheme to try to claim the money without revealing himself as the winner.

"This truly is one of the strangest situations in the history of lotteries," said Terry Rich, the chief executive of the Iowa Lottery.

He also pointed out that the unclaimed prize was the largest ever in the history of the game.

Mr Tipton has said he was hundreds of miles away in Texas on the day the winning ticket was bought, but police claim that mobile phone records indicate he was in fact in Iowa.

(© Daily Telegraph London)

Telegraph.co.uk