The Brit who was one number away from winning £1 billion

Gary Fletcher and his family
Gary Fletcher and his family

Sheffield lottery fan, Gary Fletcher (pictured - centre - with his family), read about the record PowerBall rollover in the US and the jaw-dropping jackpot of $1.6 billion (£1.17 billion), and he decided he fancied a piece of the action. He tracked down a way to play the US lottery in the UK, chose his numbers, then forgot all about it. Gary only discovered how close he had got to the jackpot when he checked his account days later.

Gary placed a bet through, which allows you to bet on lotteries around the world. He successfully guessed four of the five winning numbers and the bonus ball.

He didn't know anything about his win until he checked his account and discovered £34,000 credit. He went online and saw an email confirming his prize - revealing just how close he had come to becoming a billionaire.
He said: "I was astounded to win, as it was my first time playing PowerBall. I've spent years and years playing the UK Lottery and have only ever won a couple of tenners." He added: "I chose the numbers based on those belonging to the houses I've lived at. I just wish I had lived somewhere with the door number 20! Still, I'm delighted. We haven't fully decided what we will do with the money yet, but we'll probably have a bit of a party, spend a bit on the house and have a holiday."


The jackpot was eventually shared between three winners - in three different states (California, Tennessee and Florida). After tax, they took home around £328 million each, and under the PowerBall rules, the store owners where they bought their tickets picked up a $25,000 cheque too.

There were also 73 people who picked up $1 million, 8 who won $2 million, and 26 million prize-winners overall.

Not always so great

And while Gary may be kicking himself for missing the final number, he may take some comfort from the fact that winning big on a US lottery doesn't always have a happy ending.

In 1996 Jeffrey Dampier won $20 million on the Illinois Lottery. Things initially went well, until he started an affair with his sister-in-law Victoria Jackson. She turned on him in 2005, and plotted with her boyfriend to rob him. Even worse, the robbery ended with Dampier being shot dead.

In 2009 Abraham Shakespeare, the winner of a $30 million PowerBall jackpot, went missing. Just before he disappeared he was befriended by Dorice Moore, who persuaded him to transfer the cash into her name to stop people hounding him for handouts. Three years later she was jailed for life for his murder.

Irooj Khan won $1 million on the lottery in 2012. The day after he picked up the giant cheque, he died, and an autopsy revealed he had been the victim of cyanide poisoning. Nobody has ever been charged with his murder.

WINNING POWERBALL NUMBERS: $1.6 Billion Powerball Jackpot Goes to 3 Winners in 3 States
WINNING POWERBALL NUMBERS: $1.6 Billion Powerball Jackpot Goes to 3 Winners in 3 States