A Powerball winner was revealed as a 62-year-old mother of seven kids, a hard-working nurse who was the beneficiary of a generous boss.
But within hours it was revealed that the story was a hoax, fooling millions of readers and even some major news outlets like the New York Post. The story came hours after the drawing for the all-time record $1.6 billion prize, which had three official winners, none of which have come forward yet.
The hoax initially claimed that the Powerball winner was a nurse who works at Park Avenue Healthcare & Wellness Centre in Pomona, which is close to where the winning ticket was bought at a 7-Eleven in Chino Hills, California.
The story claimed that the owner of the nursing home chain, Shlomo Rechnitz, had purchased close to $18,000 worth of tickets and divvied them up among employees. The employees at Park Avenue Healthcare & Wellness Centre then gathered around a television to watch the drawing on Wednesday, but the alleged winner wasn’t watching with them.
— CBS Los Angeles (@CBSLA) January 15, 2016
“Her reaction was that she didn’t believe it. She then pulled out her ticket and reviewed it with two other nurses — number by number,” said David Levy, senior manager for the center. “And then she freaked out.”
The report even claimed that the nurse stayed on until 11:30 p.m., finishing out her shift even though she was now a multi-millionaire.
But within hours of hitting the internet, the story unraveled. The New York Daily News reported that the Powerball winner was really a hoax perpetrated by the woman’s son.
“David Levy, the nursing home’s administrator, said the facility was abuzz Wednesday night after the woman received a call from her son saying she was the winner.
“The nurse’s son went so far as to send her a picture of what he said was the winning ticket, Levy said. The woman went home thinking she was a member of the 1 percent — only to find out her son was merely joking around, the daughter said.”
Not everyone bought the Powerball winner hoax. Official spokesperson Russ Lopez said he thought the story of the winning nurse was a “great story,” though he was reserving judgment until it was verified.
“I certainly hope it’s her. That would be a great story,” said California Lottery spokesman Russ Lopez.
“But Twitter is going crazy with fake tickets, and people have to take claims with some skepticism until we verify the winner.”
— ABC 7 Chicago (@ABC7Chicago) January 15, 2016
This was not the only Powerall hoax to hit the internet on Thursday, the day after the drawing for the $1.6 billion prize. Earlier on Thursday, a report claimed that 27-year-old hedge fund manager Jared Price had won the jackpot.
The site, called United Media Publishing, even had fake quotes from the young millionaire.
“I just want to be a normal man,” he said. “Maybe I will buy up the next Wu Tang album, or buy another yacht. I already have more than anyone would ever need, so this is just icing on the cake,” he continued.
While the story of the nurse and hedge fund manager Jared Price winning the Powerball jackpot were both hoaxes, there are at least three big winners already known. While the world waits for the real Powerball winners to step forward, lottery officials are already giving out $1 million prizes to the stores that sold each of the three winning tickets.
[Picture by Scott Olson/Getty Images]