Now that the man who rigged lottery jackpots in Iowa and four other states has been sentenced for his crimes, officials are highlighting key details that led to Eddie Tipton’s demise.
Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich said Tipton bought his Hot Lotto ticket at one of the handful of Iowa conveniences stores that — back in December of 2010 — had audio on the video surveillance of purchases.
“It was the audio, when it was released, that actually gave him up, not the video,” Rich told Radio Iowa today. “He was just really unlucky that he went into that particular store and bought the ticket.”
It was a lottery official in Maine who first recognized Tipton’s southern accent because Tipton had been in Maine a couple of days earlier to do a security check at the Maine Lottery. Mary Neubauer, a vice president at the Iowa Lottery, told Radio Iowa that was just one of the “lucky breaks” in the case against the former security director for the Multi-State Lottery Association.
“I think the thing that has puzzled the public is why didn’t people realize sooner that it was Eddie Tipton,” Neubauer said. “In the case of the person from the Maine Lottery, the folks from the Multi-State Lottery and the person here at the Iowa Lottery who all called and said: ‘I think it’s Eddie Tipton,’ they all had had recent contact with Eddie Tipton, like within hours or within days before the video was released.”
The Iowa Lottery’s CEO said another key moment came when investigators mapped out the five tickets Tipton knew were sure-winners.
“It was an easy spot to be able to crack the case,” Rich said.
That’s because the drawings were held during the long Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday periods when Tipton was driving from Iowa to his home in Texas.
“It appeared that those times of year gave Eddie Tipton an excuse to be on the road and be traveling,” Neubauer said, “and then that gave him the opportunity to buy lottery tickets in lots of different states.”
Over a six-year period, Tipton rigged jackpots in Colorado, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma. Tipton managed to “wipe” the malicious code off the computers that generated the winning jackpot numbers for the lotteries in all but one of those states. Neubauer said investigators found that needle in the haystack.
“There was still a computer in existence up in the state of Wisconsin that he hadn’t been able to get to and that’s where they ultimately found the code,” Neubauer said. “…Some lucky breaks, some technology and some perseverance were all part of the story.”
Iowa Lottery officials never paid the two people who tried to claim the Hot Lotto Jackpot for Tipton. The Canadian lawyer who called first had the security code on the ticket and told Neubauer he was wearing “a blazer and gray flannel dress pants” when he bought the ticket. Neubauer, who took the phone call, knew he was lying because the security camera footage showed a man in jeans and a hoodie making the purchase.