A Webster City man, who claimed a $9 million Hot Lotto jackpot nearly five years ago, filed a lawsuit today claiming he deserved a much bigger prize.
In May of 2011, Larry Dawson won the first jackpot after a previous jackpot in the game was “rigged.” Attorney Jerry Crawford of Des Moines is representing Dawson.
“But for the rigging of the lottery by the lottery executive, our client would’ve won a cash value of $16 million, in total,” Crawford said. After taxes, Dawson collected $6 million in 2011.
Just a few months earlier, a $10 million cash value Hot Lotto jackpot was won. But, Eddie Tipton, a former executive with the Multi-State Lottery Association was recently convicted of fraud for “fixing” the game and trying to claim that prize.
Crawford believes that $10 million prize should go to Dawson. “The question that our lawsuit poses and that we think should be very easy to answer is if you can’t trust the lottery to pay you in full when you win, why should you ever play?” Crawford said.
After Tipton unsuccessfully attempted to redeem the ticket for the Hot Lotto prize and the redemption time expired, the $10 million was ruled to be an “unclaimed prize” and distributed back to the Iowa Lottery and other participating state lotteries.
Attorney Nick Mauro, who’s also representing Dawson, claims the Lottery broke its own rules. “The money that we’re talking about in this lawsuit was always intended and always earmarked to go to a jackpot winner,” Mauro said. “This money was never intended to go to the states’ general funds…or whatever the lottery does with its half of the profits. This was always intended to be jackpot money.”
Iowa Lottery officials issued a statement, saying “It is impossible to rewrite history. No one can know what would have occurred in this case had any event in it been changed. We believe that Mr. Dawson rightfully was paid the jackpot to which he was entitled.”
Crawford is surprised with the response. “We know our client won. We know their executive rigged the game. I’m a little surprised they want to be on that side instead of our side, to be honest,” Crawford said.
Crawford and Mauro spoke with reporters this afternoon in their law firm’s office in downtown Des Moines. Larry Dawson did not attend the news conference.
“He and his wife are not the kind of people who are looking for any limelight or attention. They could have been here, but they prefer not to be,” Crawford said. Crawford noted Larry and Kathy Dawson have donated a lot of their winnings to charity and they should not be viewed as “greedy” for filing the lawsuit.
“But, they also think that if somebody plays the lottery…you know, the odds aren’t exactly what we call ‘great’ to win the lottery and if you actually win, you should get your prize,” Crawford said.
The lawsuit was filed against the Iowa Lottery Authority and the Multi-State Lottery Association (MSLA). It’s the first in what could be several lawsuits filed by players claiming they were ripped off by games allegedly rigged by Eddie Tipton. The former security director of the MSLA is also accused of rigging jackpots in Colorado, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma.