CLIVE, Iowa — For nearly a year, a Powerball® ticket winning a $50,000 prize rode around forgotten in a West Des Moines man’s work car. Fast forward to this month, and it’s a bad news-good news situation for the man.
Casey Langan, 49, said he recently was part of a layoff at his company, and was therefore cleaning out his work car when he found the lottery ticket still inside the center console. He later decided to check his numbers on the Iowa Lottery’s website and got quite a shock when he saw his big win.
“It couldn’t be better timing: Christmas, just getting let go from the job,” Langan told officials on Wednesday as he claimed his prize at lottery headquarters in Clive. “It was perfect timing.”
Langan matched four of five white balls and the Powerball in the Jan. 18 drawing. He was one number away from winning that night’s $343 million jackpot.
He purchased his winning easy-pick ticket at Kwik Star, 506 W. Ninth St. in Waterloo, where he and his wife lived at the time. He admits he forgot about the ticket after putting it in the car’s console.
“It’s been sitting in that work car ever since,” he said.
Langan said he didn’t believe his eyes when he checked the lottery website, so he took his ticket to a nearby convenience store to verify the win. He said he was relieved when he heard the “Woo-hoo! You’re a winner!” recording play from the store’s lottery terminal.
Langan claimed his prize about five weeks before it would’ve expired. In Iowa, lottery players have up to 365 days from the date of the drawing to claim Powerball prizes. He said that if it weren’t for losing his job, he probably would not have uncovered the winning ticket until it was too late to claim his winnings.
“I’ve been driving around for a year with $50,000 in the car, really,” he said. “If I didn’t get laid off, I don’t think I probably would’ve grabbed it. Things happen for a reason.”
The winning numbers in the Jan. 18 drawing were 20-24-38-56-68 and Powerball 18. The Power Play number was 2.
Langan recently moved to the Des Moines area with his wife, and said they plan to use part of his winnings for a down payment on a home.
“We’ve been walking around, like, ‘Gosh, it’d be great to be able to start looking at some houses,’” he said. “Now, with a down payment, we can start looking at them and have it be really realistic. That part’s really exciting.”
He also is in the running for a new job, and hopes his lottery luck will apply to that process as well.
His message to anyone who has a lottery ticket they have not yet checked?
“Check every single one of those!” he said.
Players in $2 Powerball choose their first five numbers from a pool of 69, and another number – called the Powerball – from a separate pool of 26. The Power Play option is available for an extra $1 per play.
Since getting its start in April 1992 in 15 states with jackpots that started at a guaranteed $2 million, Powerball has grown into one of the world’s biggest and most recognizable lottery games. Today Powerball is played by 48 lotteries across the country with drawings at 9:59 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays.