Iowa Lottery officials had more questions than answers Friday as they tried to unravel the stunning mystery behind a year-old winning ticket turned in less than two hours before Thursday's deadline for a jackpot worth up to $14.3 million.
Among the questions: Who actually bought the Hot Lotto ticket? Who are members of the trust that stepped forward to claim the prize less than two hours before it expired? Where was the ticket for 364 days, and why did the trustee risk sending it by FedEx to Des Moines one day before the deadline?
Here's what they know: Two attorneys with Des Moines-based Davis Brown Law Firm showed up at Iowa Lottery headquarters at 2:10 p.m. Thursday with the winning ticket before the 4 p.m. deadline. They represent Hexam Investments Trust, whose trustee is a lawyer and businessman named Crawford Shaw from the wealthy town of Bedford, New York. Shaw signed the ticket, which was validated as the winner, on behalf of the trust.
"It's amazing things were cut that close. What if something had gone wrong? What if there had been a snowstorm? It was down to the wire," said Mary Neubauer, a spokeswoman for the Lottery, which had installed a countdown clock, repeatedly issued public reminders about the ticket and had been making plans to give away Iowa's portion of the unclaimed jackpot.
But before they pay a dime, Lottery officials say they will conduct a thorough investigation to make sure the ticket was legally purchased, possessed and presented. They were presented with another wrinkle Friday when they received calls from multiple, unrelated people claiming the ticket was stolen from them.
Neubauer said it's not known whether Shaw, a 76-year-old Yale graduate whose website calls him "a leading international lawyer, financier and management consultant with offices in New York, London and Paris," is the winner or whether he simply represents others. She said investigators were in "initial conversations" with him and making arrangements to meet him in person.
Security footage showing someone purchasing the winning ticket _ numbers 3-12-16-26-33 and Hot Ball 11 _ at a busy Des Moines convenience store near Interstate 80 and Interstate 35 on Dec. 29, 2010, will be reviewed as part of the investigation.