Erik Bragg, a professional skater and amateur filmmaker, claims to have bought one of the three winning Powerball tickets, although whether or not it’s all just an elaborate hoax remains to be seen.
As MSN reports, Erik Bragg posted a photo on Instagram on Thursday, showing the excited skateboarder beaming while holding a California Lottery ticket, purportedly showing the winning Powerball numbers. If the ticket is legit, Bragg has won a one-third share of an estimated $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot – the other two winning tickets were sold in Tennessee and Florida.
“OMG I WON $1.5 BILLION!!!!! I’m posting this in case anyone tries to jack me this is proof! Look it up, I bought in chino hills where I grew up!”
If he’s telling the truth and really has won the Powerball, Bragg will be getting about $500 million, before taxes, if he takes the “annuity” option (that is, the entire jackpot paid out to him in yearly installments over 20 or more years); if he takes the “lump sum” option (takes it all at once), he’ll be getting about $250 million before taxes.
So is he telling the truth? Well, Bragg does live in California, and Chino Hills (where one of the three winning tickets was sold) is in the suburbs of Los Angeles, so there’s that.
But as WCPO (Cincinnati) reports, there are several problems with Bragg’s claim. Shortly after the drawing, a new Twitter account emerged, with the username @ThePowerballGuy, claiming to belong to Bragg. That account posted a series of tweets making grandiose claims about what “Bragg” was going to do with the money: first claiming to give away $10,000 to everyone who followed him, then $1,000, then $20,000, and so on.
At one point, @ThePowerballGuy promised to give away $20,000 to the first 100,000 people who followed him. If you can do basic math, you’ll see that that’s impossible, since that comes out to $2 billion – well over Bragg’s purported share of the jackpot.
The @ThePowerballGuy account has since been suspended. But, Bragg does appear to have an actual Twitter account, @DrErikBragg, that does seem to really belong to him. It doesn’t have the official blue Twitter verified seal for public figures, but maybe Bragg isn’t a big enough celebrity to qualify for one of those?
— Erik Bragg (@DrErikBragg) September 6, 2015
Bragg’s Twitter account doesn’t mention Powerball at all, although he seems to not use Twitter much: he’s posted all of six tweets since December 1.
The Instagram account that purports to belong to Erik Bragg, thisguysthelimit, isn’t verified either, although it’s possible that Instagram, like Twitter, simply doesn’t consider Bragg a big enough celebrity to verify his account.
Several users pointed out some glaring flaws in the Powerball ticket that suggest it was manipulated through Photoshop or some other photo editing program, according to The New York Daily News.
“The only reason the ticket would have A,B,C,D AND E down the side is if it had five sets of numbers. One set of numbers would only have the letter A, and would be more centered on the ticket.”
“If you zoom in closely enough, you’ll notice that the 4 in 34 and 04 look edited in there. I’m very skeptical.”
“I’m not one to call ‘Photoshopped!’ on things, but sadly, his pic is soooooo shopped.”
Even though he’s been called out by social media detectives, you have to give Bragg credit: his faked winning Powerball ticket is certainly more convincing than the one that this jokester in Wisconsin tried to pass of.
— Michael Adler (@madler9000) January 14, 2016
Neither the Chino Hills Powerball winner (who is, apparently, not Erik Bragg) nor either of the other winning ticket holders have come forward, as of this writing.
[Image via Shutterstock/karenfoleyphotography]