Forest City Powerball Winner Keeps $2M Secret For 1 Month

Written By Marian Rosin on December 1, 2022
An Iowa Lottery Powerball winner waited 1 month before claiming prize

Tamara Sheehan of Forest City in Winnebago County and her husband, Stephen, kept to themselves the news that she was a $2 million Powerball winner. They didn’t go public with their Iowa Lottery good fortune for about a month.

Sheehan and her husband won their millions during the run-up to the history-making $2.04 billion jackpot in early November. They didn’t tell anyone and put off visiting the lottery office to claim their prize.

They chose to do some research, get some answers to their financial and tax questions, and do a little planning.

Sheehan said that the win began feeling “really real” as she and Stephen finally drove up to the agency office in Clive and spotted the “Lottery” sign out front. After claiming the big prize, she said, “It’s really real.”

Iowa Lottery winner was secretly the talk of Forest City

For a while after the Oct. 10 drawing that netted the Sheehans their two million, the public knew someone local had won but not that winner’s identity. Sheehan admitted she enjoyed hearing all the exciting local chatter while keeping her two-million-dollar secret.

Forest City’s population count registered at only 4,285 according to the 2020 census, and so the news of an anonymous $2 million winner was “a BIG buzz,” according to Sheehan. “It’s a small town, so it was really something fun for everyone to talk about.”

The big jackpot the night of the Sheehans’ win was $403.9 million. Nobody won that, so it rolled over, eventually culminating in that record-setting $2.04 billion prize.

Sheehan had matched the first five numbers, but not the Powerball. She would have scored $1 million but having taken the Power Play® option for an extra dollar brought her winnings up to $2 million.

She’d purchased her lucky “easy pick” ticket at Casey’s at 1132 US Highway 69 South in her town. The Lottery awarded the store a $2,000 bonus for selling that ticket.

3 valid reasons to wait before claiming large lottery prizes

Sheehan’s decision to press “pause” on her win for a month was nothing compared to the (in)actions of two New York siblings. The Ashkar brothers purposely took six years to claim a $5 million lottery prize.

The then 30-something pair from the central part of the Excelsior State finally came forward for their 2006 prize in 2012. He waited to claim his prize because he told the Lottery, he worried the money might “negatively influence” his life.

He also didn’t want someone to marry him for his money. The brothers finally emerged to claim their big prize just 11 days before the expiry date.

Besides wanting time to do research, like Sheehan, or wanting to ensure someone’s marrying for love, like Andy Ashkar, other reasons for waiting on claiming prizes may include:

  1. Not wanting publicity. Allowing the press time to lose interest may let big winners maintain anonymity or at least a lower profile.
  2. Needing time to choose between a lump-sum payment or an annuity.
  3. Buying time to cope emotionally with a life-changing amount of money.

Iowa Lottery deadlines come quicker than in other states

According to New York Lottery rules at the time of the Ashkar brothers’ big win, scratch-off tickets remained redeemable until a year after a game was retired. Current Iowa Lottery winners, however, do not have six years to claim a prize.

Not even close. Instead, here in Hawkeye State, different lottery games have different expiration times.

  • Pull-tab and scratch game prizes must be claimed within 90 days of the official ending date of a game
  • Prizes for InstaPlay, Pick 3, and Pick 4 also have a 90-day deadline
  • Winners of Powerball, Mega Millions, Lotto America, and Lucky for Life prizes have 365 days from the drawing date

In Iowa so far this year, six winners have banked at least $1 million. And a $1 million winner from the Sept. 6 drawing still hasn’t claimed their prize. That ticket was purchased in Ames.

For more information on claiming winnings or to check your numbers and more, visit the Iowa Lottery website.

Photo by PlayIA
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Marian Rosin

Marian Rosin is a freelance writer who has been published in Upnest and Psychology Today. Rosin brings experience in the gambling sector as the senior copywriter for Isle of Capri casinos.

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