Winner of $1.3bn Powerball jackpot revealed as cancer sufferer who plans to use money to 'find a good doctor'

By John Mercury April 30, 2024

One of the winners of a $1.3bn (£1bn) Powerball jackpot has had cancer for eight years and wants to use the money to “find a good doctor”.

Father-of-two Cheng “Charlie” Saephan, from Portland, Oregon, was announced as the winner of the massive jackpot – the fourth largest in the lottery’s history – on Monday.

“I will be able to provide for my family and my health,” the 46-year-old said at a press conference.

“How am I going to have time to spend all of this money? How long will I live?”

Images of Cheng "Charlie" Saephan are displayed during a news conference where it was revealed that he was one of the winners of the $1.3 billion Powerball jackpot at the Oregon Lottery headquarters on Monday, April 29, 2024, in Salem, Ore. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)
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Pic: AP

Mr Saephan, 46, entered the lottery with friend Laiza Chao, 55, who contributed $100 (£80) for them to buy a batch of shared tickets.

After they bought the tickets, Ms Chao sent a photo of the tickets to Mr Saephan and jokingly said: “We’re billionaires.”

The next day, they won.

Mr Saephan broke the news to Ms Chao as she travelled to work, telling her over the phone: “You don’t have to go anymore.”

In the weeks leading up to the draw, Mr Saephan said he wrote out numbers for the game on a piece of paper and slept with it under his pillow.

Oregon Lottery External Communications Program Manager Melanie Mesaros holds a list of numbers as Cheng "Charlie" Saephan speaks during a press conference after it was revealed that he was one of the winners of the $1.3 billion Powerball jackpot at the Oregon Lottery headquarters on Monday, April 29, 2024, in Salem, Ore. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)
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Pic: AP

He prayed that he would win, saying: “I need some help – I don’t want to die yet unless I have done something for my family first.”

Mr Saephan and his wife, 37-year-old wife, Duanpen, are taking half the money, and the rest is going to Ms Chao.

They are taking a lump sum payment of $422m (£336m) after taxes.

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Mr Saephan, a machinist for an aerospace company, said he was born in Laos and moved to Thailand in 1987, before immigrating to the US in 1994.

He wore a sash at the news conference identifying himself as Iu Mien, a southeast Asian ethnic group with roots in southern China.

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Many Iu Mein were subsistence farmers and assisted American forces during the Vietnam war.

After the conflict, thousands of Iu Mien families fled to Thailand to avoid retribution and eventually settled in the US, with a sizeable and active community in Portland.

The winning ticket was sold in early April at a Plaid Pantry convenience store in Portland, ending a winless Powerball streak that had stretched more than three months.

FILE - A Plaid Pantry convenience store is shown, 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. The winning Powerball ticket was sold at a Plaid Pantry convenience store in Portland in early April. The winner had contacted the Oregon Lottery to claim the prize. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, file)
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Pic: AP

The $1.3bn (£1bn) prize is the fourth-largest Powerball jackpot in history, and the eighth largest among US jackpot games, according to the Oregon Lottery.

The biggest US lottery jackpot won was $2.04bn (£1.69bn) in California in 2022.

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