$768M Powerball Winner Says Ticket Was Nearly Thrown Away, 24-Year-Old ‘Pretty Much Felt Lucky’

Posted on: April 24, 2019, 08:26h. 

Last updated on: April 24, 2019, 08:26h.

The $768 million Powerball winner almost wasn’t, as a 24-year-old Wisconsin man says he almost accidentally discarded the ticket.

Powerball jackpot lottery numbers
At just 24 years of age, Powerball winner Manuel Franco has amassed a fortune of wealth. (Image: John Hart/AP)

Manuel Franco came forward Tuesday to claim his $768.4 million prize that he won on the March 27 drawing. Under Wisconsin law, lottery winners are not permitted to remain anonymous.

Franco told reporters he didn’t watch the drawing live, and went to work the following morning not knowing he was filthy rich.

When he heard only one winning Powerball ticket had been sold – and it was printed in Milwaukee – he checked his tickets upon returning home. Franco said he felt lucky, but the first two of his five tickets were worthless. The third netted him $4. The fourth one was a throwaway. Then he noticed a fifth ticket stuck to the back of another. It was the winning slip.

It was amazing. My heart started racing, blood pumping. My blood felt warm. I screamed for about five or 10 minutes,” he said. “I was going insane.”

Franco selected the cash option of approximately $477 million. After state and federal taxes, he’ll receive a little more than $326 million.

Lottery Jackpots Threatened

The $768.4 million Powerball jackpot was the third-largest lottery payout in US history. More than $1.58 billion was split between three Powerball players in 2016, and $1.537 billion was claimed solely by one lucky South Carolinian last year in Mega Millions.

The top five US lottery jackpots have all occurred over the last two years. The massive sums come as a result of the two most popular games being reformatted to making winning even more difficult.

Franco faced odds of one in 292.2 million. Mega Millions odds are one in 302.5 million.

While the constant headlines of record-setting jackpots are good for lottery business, a recent opinion issued by the Department of Justice threatens the fun.

A revised interpretation of the Wire Act issued by DOJ Office of Legal Counsel Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel and made public in January says the federal law bans the transmission of interstate wagers relating to all forms of gambling. Playing the lottery, of course, is a form gambling.

Legal Challenges

Law experts say the DOJ opinion is just that – an opinion, and doesn’t necessarily mean it’s case closed for online lottery games, interstate poker pooling, and other certain forms of interactive gambling.

Engel’s opinion reverses a 2011 guidance from the same DOJ office during the Obama administration that said the 1961 Wire Act banned only interstate transmissions of sports wagers – not all forms of gambling. That decision essentially allowed states to determine their own laws on internet casinos.

Numerous state attorneys general and lottery officials have asked the DOJ to further explain the scope of the new interpretation. There have also been calls for the federal agency to provide immunities for states participating in interstate lottery games, and/or have legal online gambling.

The State of New Hampshire is leading a lawsuit against the DOJ. District Court Judge Paul Barbadoro said at a hearing this month that the Wire Act is “a mess of a statute.”