The self-proclaimed “winner” of the R91-million Powerball jackpot interviewed by newspapers over the weekend is a phoney, the company that operates the national lottery said on Tuesday.
“We emphasise that we only had one winner and that winner’s description does not go anywhere close to what has been communicated in those media that ran the story,” Gidani chairperson and chief executive Bongani Khumalo said at a briefing in Midrand.
Over the past few days, several newspapers have reported that a deaf and mute cleaner named Stanley Philander, from Cape Town, won the Powerball jackpot.
The articles were accompanied by a photo of a smiling Philander with his family holding up what purported to be the winning ticket.
“The information we obtained this morning [Tuesday] is that the coupon supposed to be the Philander’s winning ticket was actually bought on Saturday February 13, the day following the Powerball draw on the 12th,” said Khumalo.
Gidani has not had any contact with Philander, who reportedly left his home with his family over the weekend after being harassed by requests for money.
“We are concerned that claims have been made that the ticket was checked and found to be authentic before breaking the story,” said Khumalo.
Gidani spokesperson Thembi Tulwana said the company would contact Die Son, the newspaper that broke the news of Philander’s “win”, and try to find more about the circumstances surrounding the ticket.
“We advised that all involved in the Philander story should do all they can to work with the Philander family to deal with the implications of the apparent prank,” said Khumalo.
Khumalo said the real winner, who was playing for the first time, was a 43-year-old wife and mother of two teenagers who ran a medium-sized business with her husband.
“She and her husband were oblivious of the media attention the phoney winner was getting. The couple said they had not told anyone about their fortune,” said Khumalo.
Khumalo said that R595-million in tickets had been purchased since the inception of Powerball in October with more than R200-million being given to social development projects.
Although Philander’s ticket was not valid for the R91m jackpot on Friday, it is still a genuine ticket for the next Powerball draw. Should the numbers be identical to the previous draw, Philander’s ticket will be good for R5 000. — Sapa