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Winner of $1.3 Billion Powerball Jackpot is an Immigrant from Laos Who Has Cancer

SALEM, Ore.  — One of the winners of a historic $1.3 billion Powerball jackpot last month is an immigrant from Laos who has had cancer for eight years and had his latest chemotherapy treatment last week.

Cheng “Charlie” Saephan, of Portland, told a news conference held by the Oregon Lottery that he and his wife, Duanpen, would split the prize evenly with a friend who chipped in $100 to buy a batch of tickets with them, Laiza Chao. They are taking a lump sum payment, $422 million after taxes.

“I will be able to provide for my family and my health,” he said, adding that he’d “find a good doctor for myself.”

He said that as a cancer patient, he wondered, “How am I going to have time to spend all of this money? How long will I live?”

After they bought the shared tickets, Chao sent a photo of the tickets to Saephan and said, “We’re billionaires.” It was a joke before the actual drawing, he said, but the next day it came true.

Plaid Pantry President and CEO Jonathan Polonsky speaks with a media member as Oregon Lottery signs are taken down after a news conference outside a Plaid Pantry convenience store on April 9, 2024, in Portland, Ore. Oregon authorities are set to reveal the winner of the $1.3 billion Powerball jackpot. The Oregon Lottery says it will identify the person Monday, April 29, 2024. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, file)

The winning Powerball ticket was sold in early April at a Plaid Pantry convenience store in Portland, ending a winless streak that had stretched more than three months. The Oregon Lottery said it had to go through a security and vetting process before announcing the identity of the person who came forward to claim the prize.

Under Oregon law, with few exceptions, lottery players cannot remain anonymous. Winners have a year to claim the top prize.

The jackpot has a cash value of $621 million before taxes if the winner chooses to take a lump sum rather than an annuity paid over 30 years, with an immediate payout followed by 29 annual installments. The prize is subject to federal taxes and state taxes in Oregon.

The $1.3 billion prize is the fourth largest Powerball jackpot in history, and the eighth largest among U.S. jackpot games, according to the Oregon Lottery.

The biggest U.S. lottery jackpot won was $2.04 billion in California in 2022.

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