California Woman Emily Leach Gives Away Winning Lotto Ticket To Homeless Man
Emily Leach, who won a million-dollar jackpot in California last January, said she is hoping to fight the state lottery’s decision stopping her from collecting a second jackpot of $260,000 — winnings that came from a ticket Leach has famously claimed she accidentally gave away to a stranger in March.
A lottery official informed her that “we gave the check to the man” in June, Leach told ABC News. Leach said she has asked a lawyer to explore her options.
A California Lottery spokesman confirmed to ABC News that Leach would not receive the $260,000 jackpot, a decision reached after an “extensive investigation” by the California Lottery’s security and law enforcement division.
“We feel very confident that the person who claimed the ticket is the rightful owner of the ticket and that is not Emily Leach,” Russ Lopez, the California Lottery’s deputy director of communications, told ABC News.
Outside of the pain of losing that kind of gwap, there is another reason why Emily is so thirsty to get her winnings…
These days, Leach, 31, is living with her mother in Reno, Nevada after being kicked out of her California home. (She said the landlord evicted her after deciding he could charge a higher rent to new tenants.)
“Right now, I’m just trying to hold on to every penny,” she said.
Leach said she has to stay thrifty because of her ailing health. She used part of her Januarywinnings to pay off $300,000 in medical bills she ran up after a ruptured spleen and a life-threatening bout with pancreatitis a couple of years earlier. Leach said she still has large bills for medication she must take.
It doesn’t help, Leach says, that she doesn’t have a real job anymore.
She said she was put on unpaid leave from her job at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System after her first lotto win because coworkers complained that there were threats made against her after her win, and they made for an unsafe work environment. She said she was later informed that she would be terminated at the end of her leave this month.
Ultimately, Emily knows it was her own dumb-a$$ fault for giving away such a precious piece of paper:
“I will be the first to admit I got flustered. I shouldn’t have been doing so many things at once,” she told “20/20″ in March. “But I was just trying to help the guy.”
But the California Lottery’s Lopez said that surveillance footage from the convenience store shows Leach willingly giving a man her ticket. An account of the incident given by the man claiming the ticket, Lopez said, was corroborated by the cashier who sold it.
“There was no coercion,” Lopez said. “It was an act of kindness that unfortunately got messy when the numbers were drawn.”
Lopez said the man who claimed the prize money has asked not to be identified.
You damn skippy he asked “not to be indentified”!!
Looks like you’re a$$ed out Emily, in words of the great American writer Tupac Shakur: “It’s a dirty game out here, Keep yo’ eyes on yo’ riches”
Image via ABCNews/Emily Leach