About the Montana lottery
Following a referendum in which 69% of Montanans voted in favour, the Montana Lottery was created and tickets were first sold in June 1987. These tickets were for the scratch game Pot of Gold and were sold at more than 1,000 retailers.
Just two years after being able to buy their first tickets, Montana Lottery players got a taste of the big time as Lotto America began being offered in November 1989. Lotto America, later replaced by Powerball was a huge success in Montana as the first week sales were double the amount that had been predicted. Then just two months later in January 1990, the Montana Lottery celebrated its first Lotto America winner. The winner in question was Katherine Summers of Basin who won $1.3 million.
In addition to Montana Powerball, Mega Millions which was previously the Big Game, Hot Lotto, Wild Card 2 and Big Sky Bonus were all added to Montana's list of lotteries. These additions meant that Montana has one of the largest collections of multi-state lotteries available in the US.
These new games have certainly done the trick; just ask Kimberly Claassen. On June 23, 2010 Claassen won a MT Powerball jackpot of $48 million. Choosing the cash option, she ended up with $25 million.
Lottery jackpot winners come in all shapes and sizes and there are even a few who have received their windfall while on the run from the police. Well that's what happened in May 2011, as Robert Stayton won a $10,000 jackpot from one of Montana Lottery's many scratch off games. At the time of his win, Stayton had two warrants out in his name for drug charges and owed $65,000 in child support.
He had purchased his ticket in Helena, Montana and had collected the money from the state lottery office without any criminal background checks being made. Following this incident, the Montana Lottery called for stricter checks with the local Sheriff adding: "No one likes to see someone with a bunch of money when they are wanted for a criminal offense." In June 2011, Stayton was arrested on drug charges.