Trust withdraws claim for Hot Lotto jackpot prize

Officials declined to pay the prize because of concerns about the legality of the purchase

A variety of Iowa Lottery tickets Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2005, in southeast Cedar Rapids.
A variety of Iowa Lottery tickets Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2005, in southeast Cedar Rapids.

DES MOINES — A weird story took another bizarre twist Thursday night as representatives of a trust withdrew their claim for a winning lottery ticket and abandoned their bid for a $7.5 million cash payout after taxes.

“This has been, and continues to be, the strangest situation that we can recall in the 26-year history of our lottery,” said Terry Rich, the Iowa Lottery’s chief operating officer. “We were excited when the Hot Lotto jackpot-winning ticket was presented in December and we were hopeful that we’d soon be paying out the big prize to the lucky winner. That has not happened.”

The claim, which New York attorney Crawford Shaw, 76, made last month on behalf of Hexham Investments Trust, was withdrawn shortly before 6 p.m. Thursday night in a letter provided by Des Moines law firm Davis Brown. That put an end, for now, to a saga that began in December 2010, when an unidentified person bought the winning ticket at the Quik Trip on Northeast 14th Street in Des Moines.

Meanwhile, the Iowa Attorney General’s Office and the state Division of Criminal Investigation issued a joint statement Thursday indicating that they will continue probing the case “in order to ensure the integrity of the lottery and to determine whether those involved complied with state law.” Officials declined further comment.

Since no one else stepped forward to claim the jackpot, the ticket’s value will be divided among the 15 jurisdictions that take part in the Hot Lotto game. Rich said Iowa’s share of about $1.3 million will go into an unclaimed prize pool and will be offered to state lottery players in a yet-to-be-determined format.

Shaw turned the winning ticket in on Dec. 29, less than two hours before a deadline to claim the prize. Lottery officials said when he and attorneys from Davis Brown came in on Jan. 17, Shaw would not identify the person who had bought the ticket nor those who were part of the trust. He insisted he was only the lawyer and trustee, not the beneficiary, and that he did not know the winner’s identity.

Iowa Lottery officials had set a deadline of 3 p.m. Friday for attorneys representing Hexham to provide basic information about the buyer and the circumstances behind the claim process, so they could determine if the ticket was legally purchased, legally possessed and legally presented.

Instead, the lottery received a letter from Davis Brown specifying that if the jackpot were to be paid to the trust, all of the winnings would be donated to charity.After lottery officials declined that offer and reiterated their demands, Shaw withdrew the claim.

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