According to a new book, The $80 Billion Gamble, the mastermind behind the largest lottery scam in US history may have had his sights set on the most well-known of lotteries – Powerball. The popular Powerball game is offered by 44 US states.
The book, co-written by the former head of the Iowa Lottery, includes details on how Eddie Tipton, a former security chief at the Multi-State Lottery Association in Urbandale, lobbied for his computer software to be used in Powerball drawings. If successful he could have massively manipulated the software to his advantage and – potentially – billions of dollars.
Used software to predict winning numbers
Tipton’s crimes date back to 2005, when he used a software code to predict winning numbers where only random computer drawings should have taken place. At the time, he was working for the Multi-State Lottery Association in Urbandale, an umbrella gaming organization owned and operated by 36 member lotteries, including the Iowa Lottery.
According to transcripts of Tipton’s confession to prosecutors that The Register obtained last year, he replicated his corrupt software to games in as many as 17 states before the authorities caught him.
The Iowa Lottery finally identified him in 2011, thanks to a state law that requires lottery winners to publicly identify themselves. It showed that Tipton himself had bought a winning jackpot ticket worth $16.5m at a Des Moines convenience store in 2010.
The story of the man who cracked the lottery has naturally been well publicized, and the outcome has been a source of fascination for many in the industry.
Failed to pay restitution
Once caught, Tipton and his brother Tommy pleaded guilty in 2017 to felony crimes that were related to the rigging scheme. Tipton was sentenced to up to 25 years in prison and agreed to repay $2.3m in restitution and court fees.
Tommy Tipton, a former Texas magistrate, was also given 75 days in jail.
Despite this harsh sentence, an investigation published by The Register in April revealed that the Tipton brothers have so far repaid less than $1,300 since they were sentenced last year. This is despite owning nearly $2m worth of property in Texas.
The Iowa Lottery never paid out on the $16.5m winning ticket as officials had suspicions about it. This means Iowa is currently not one of the states that is owed restitution.
Reasons behind the book
Co-authors of The $80 Billion Gamble Terry Rich and Perry Beeman said there were always questions over how Tipton managed to get as far as he did, which led to the book’s publication.
Rich, a former Iowa Lottery director, who retired in December, said: “One of the reasons that we put this book together was to document what happened because somebody is always trying to beat the system.”
Iowa journalist Beeman is a former The Register reporter. Together the pair outline how Tipton was finally caught, using details such as hot dogs, a search for Bigfoot and Tipton’s sloppy attire. This ultimately led to his conviction and incarceration.