When it comes to lottery mysteries, this one hits the jackpot.
Iowa officials are so stuck in their search for a $14 million lottery winner that they may release surveillance tape of the unclaimed ticket being purchased to get a break in the case, according to reports.
The Iowa state treasury eventually took the money back, but that didn't end the intrigue. Law enforcement got involved because it suspected criminal doing. Now perhaps the final hope of solving the real buyer's identity rests on grainy footage of a man buying the Iowa Hot Lotto ticket on Dec. 23, 2010, at a Kwik Trip gas station in Des Moines, reported KCRG. A snippet or still of the footage would likely be shared with the public, KCRG said, not the entire sequence.
Investigators actually considered showing the video earlier, according to an AP story in January. Now authorities are saying that they will release the video in the next few weeks if no new clues materialize.
"I don't recall the quality of [the video] being excessively great," Patrick Townsend, a special agent with the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigations, told KCRG. "But it's something to go with, something with hope."
The one person to claim the prize had the actual valid ticket -- but a suspicious story. A Des Moines law firm representing attorney Crawford Shaw of Bedford, N.Y., presented the ticket less than two hours before the deadline on Dec. 29, 2011, but Shaw wouldn't tell the lottery where he got it, reported several outlets.
Pressed for full disclosure, Shaw's lawyers said he didn't know the identity of the buyer, just that he was representing Belize-based Hexham Trust Investments, which Shaw happened to misspell as Hexam when he signed the winning ticket, noted the Des Moines Register. Shaw withdrew his claim on Jan. 26.
“We have the money, and we want to pay it,” Mary Neubauer, spokeswoman for the Iowa Lottery, told the paper at the time. "We just need that basic information."
While we're on the subject of gambling, Iowa Lottery director Terry Rich told the Lee Gazette that the odds of solving the mystery were about 50/50.
What were the odds that $14 million in lottery winnings would go unclaimed? Rich told the AP he believes it's the only lottery case in which a multi-million-dollar winner surrendered the jackpot.