Hot Ticket

A recent winner of Oregon's Game Megabucks lives in Baghdad, Iraq.

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Image via Oregon Lottery

The Oregon Lottery has just made history. Or rather, a winner of the Oregon Lottery has.

For the first time ever, the grand prize — $6.4 million — will go to an international contender.  The Megabucks jackpot winner, whose name is being withheld, lives in Iraq.  

On 24 August, a website called hired someone to buy a ticket on behalf of the man at a deli in Bend, Oregon.  On 1 December, the ticket buyer, a Kurdish man from Baghdad,  showed up in Oregon to claim his prize, which turned out — after a round of inquiry and discussion — to be legal.

“It took us several days to determine that there was nothing in our rules or statutes or laws that would prevent us from paying him,” Oregon Lottery spokesman Chuck Baumann told us.

“In a normal situation… they’d probably be in an out in an hour, maybe two, but in this situation we took several days — at the end of it, when the dust settled, there was no reason that we could not pay the player,” Baumann said.

Lottery tickets cannot be mailed across state lines, so the winner had to pick up his prize in person.  While he had evidently known that he had a winning ticket since August, the lag time between him winning and picking it up was due to delays obtaining a visa in order to travel to the US to claim his prize.

The winner, who is 37 and married with two sons, chose to take his payouts over 20 years, rather than a lump sum. His first payment was for $256,000. He told a local news outlet that he plans to give the money to his sons.

The Lottery generally publicizes the names of its winners. However, in this case, the payments would constitute such a threat to his safety that officials decided not to do so.