Lottery Winner Denied $50,000 Jackpot Due To Drug Money Connection

By McCarton Ackerman 10/17/16

The woman initially told authorities she bought the ticket with money earned from babysitting.

Lottery Winner Denied $50,000 Jackpot Due To Drug Money Connection

A $50,000 lottery winner from Illinois won’t be able to cash in after a judge ruled she wasn’t entitled to the small fortune because her ticket was bought with drug money.

The Herald and Review reported that the government will now keep the money after a state appeals court overturned a Macon County judge’s decision to award the winnings to Tykisha Lofton. She would have received a lump sum payment worth more than $35,000.

The Decatur home Lofton lived in with boyfriend Terrance Norwood was raided by authorities in 2014, which is when police confiscated the winning ticket as evidence. Norwood was sentenced last October on charges of drug dealing, drug possession and armed violence. Although Lofton was at home when the raid took place, she told police she was unaware her boyfriend dealt drugs.

Norwood told authorities he purchased the ticket in the hopes it would literally be a ticket out of buying drugs. However, Lofton reportedly changed her story. Although she initially told police Norwood bought the ticket and she scratched off the winning numbers, court documents claim she later told authorities that she bought the ticket with money earned through babysitting, won a free lottery ticket with her initial purchase and then made good on the jackpot. 

The Macon County judge ruled that the ticket was likely bought with drug money, but still awarded Lofton the money because he felt using Illinois’ forfeiture laws to take the five-figure sum was going too far. However, the state appeals court felt otherwise.

“Because of the direct link between the lottery winnings and the funds used to purchase the original ticket, the winnings can reasonably be considered 'proceeds traceable' to Norwood's illegal drug sales,” wrote the appeals court.

This isn’t the first time drugs and the lottery have mixed. In February 2015, Ronnie Music Jr., 44, won a $3 million Georgia lottery jackpot, but didn’t give up his day job of trafficking meth. Instead, he doubled down on the business by investing his winnings in meth. Music Jr. pleaded guilty in July to federal drug trafficking and firearms charges. He has yet to be sentenced, but faces anywhere from 10 years to life behind bars.

A 2002 British lottery winner told The Sun in July 2013 how he blew through his entire £9.7 million ($14.4 million USD at the time) jackpot winnings on cocaine, prostitutes and a lavish lifestyle. Michael Carroll now makes about $300 per week working in a cookie factory, but lives a much happier life these days. He said he would “have been dead in six months if I’d carried on that lifestyle of drinking and drug taking.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.