Welcome to the Department of Justice, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller

For immediate release --March 4, 1999.
Contact Bob Brammer, 515-281-6699

Statement of the Attorney General's Office:
"We recommend that doubts and uncertainty
be resolved in favor of paying the prize."

With our advice and counsel, the Iowa Lottery last week asked the Court to determine the ownership interests in the Feb. 10 winning Powerball lottery ticket, with a prize of $15.9 million. The Lottery had been confronted with multiple claims of ownership in the winning ticket, and one claim was made by a person under age 21.

The multiple ownership issue has been resolved. Sarah Elder has withdrawn any claim of ownership in the winning ticket.

Regarding the issue of under-age sale, we have advised the Lottery based on our review of the case that we conclude the facts are ambiguous and the application of the law is somewhat unclear. The stipulated and clear facts of the purchase in this case are very brief and simple, essentially that Timothy Schultz decided to buy a Powerball ticket about 6:45 p.m. on Feb. 10, that he only had fifty cents in his pocket, that he asked Sarah Elder if she had fifty cents, that she provided Timothy with fifty cents, that Timothy bought the ticket, and that he wrote "Sarah + Tim's" on the ticket.

These are the established and stipulated facts of the events immediately surrounding the purchase of the winning ticket. As the consent order filed today concludes, these facts are subject to interpretation and do not conclusively establish a sale of the ticket to an underage person.

In such a case, we recommend that doubts and uncertainty be resolved in favor of paying the prize. We reach this conclusion in the interest of fairness. The public in general and the winner in particular have paid the price of the tickets. The State has profited from the sale of the lottery tickets. To pursue a fight to keep more of the proceeds is unfair, unless it is clear that the purchase is illegal, and in this case that is not clear.

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