An Almost Happy Story: Coda
I would like to give one final update on the significant events that have recently unfolded in the mysterious case of the unclaimed $16.5 million dollar Iowa Lottery “Hot Lotto” Grand Prize. If you are unsure of the news story to which I am referring please click on the link to your right, An Almost Happy Story, or google some combination of “16.5 million”, “unclaimed”, “ticket” and “Iowa” and you will be quickly led to a catalogue of relevant news stories on this bizarre event.
As I reported at the end of An Almost Happy Story, after the tragic suicide of potential winner Lorraine McCormick, the missing lottery ticket, that had caused so much grief for the McCormick family and so much confusion in the state of Iowa for lottery officials and the countless Iowans who awaited its advent with Rapture-like enthusiasm, was finally, within minutes of the deadline, turned in by a unnamed man. The “mystery” was solved and the “Hot Lotto” millions were going to be awarded to its lucky winner.
However, it turns out this Iowa State lottery saga did not have its happy winner as had previously been reported in the news. In truth, the advent was only of a false prophet seeking false profits:
Hexham Investments Trust of Bedford, N.Y., the firm representing the unnamed ticket holder, refused to divulge the identity of their winning client. The suspicious circumstances surrounding the claim and the growing doubt regarding the authenticity of the ticket prompted an investigation from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and the Iowa attorney general. In light of the criminal investigation, as well as reports surfacing of pending fraud suits against him in Texas and Delaware, attorney Crawford Shaw, trustee for Hexham Investments, decided in the end to withdraw his claim for the millions – “to avoid any controversy.”
To everyone’s continued astonishment, the valid, winning ticket was never produced. The million-dollar jackpot was never claimed. All the money was simply returned to the coffers of the Iowa State lottery.
So what does this all mean? Where was the ticket?
Almost certainly Lorraine McCormick had the ticket. What I thought would be a piece of fiction, a made-up drama on the vicissitudes of fate written to entertain a few people and myself, became in fact a work of journalism – a true story. A true story that ended up destroying the life of a good natured, helpless woman and robbed two wonderful, healthy children of their caring mother. I feel sorry for Lorraine and Tina and Zach and I sincerely wish I had never written the story. But it is too late now. All I can hope for now is that An Almost Happy Story serves as some sort of cautionary tale on the dangers of writing. Beware: fiction, even bad fiction, is capable of murder.