Luck, faith, and a pillow: Portland trio claim $1.3 billion Powerball jackpot

A winning trio in Portland!

Luck, faith, and a pillow: Portland trio claim $1.3 billion Powerball jackpot

It was the fourth largest Powerball jackpot in the game's history, and the lucky winner seemed to use a little luck, faith, and his pillow to match all five numbers plus the Powerball.

The winning trio

Cheng “Charlie” Saephan, 46, purchased the ticket for the April 6, 2024 drawing and happened to be the only person in the country to match all of the winning numbers and the Powerball.

Saephan told Lottery officials that he was sharing the prize with his 37-year-old wife, Duanpen Saephan, and friend Laiza Chao, 55, of Milwaukie. They elected to split the prize among the three of them: 50% for Chao and 25% for both of the Saephans. They all took the cash option, which totaled $422.3 million after taxes.

Cancer battle for the winner

Saephan told Lottery officials that he has battled cancer in the past and is now fighting a recurrence. He said he was hoping for a combination of faith and luck when he purchased over 20 tickets for the April 6 drawing.

In the weeks leading up to the jackpot-winning drawing, he said he wrote out numbers from the game (1 to 69) on a piece of paper, and then he slept with that paper under his pillow.

He said:

I prayed to God to help me. My kids are young and I'm not that healthy.

Saephan, who is Iu-Mienh, was born in Laos but has lived in Portland for the past 30 years. After winning the huge jackpot, he said his family can now live “worry free” in light of his illness.

No need to work anymore

How did the trio come into play for this Powerball win? Chao happened to give Saephan $100 toward the purchase of tickets for the game. After Saephan determined he was holding the winning ticket, he had to share the good news with Chao.

Saephan recalls:

I said, “Laiza, where are you?” and she said, “I'm going to work.” I replied, “You don't have to go anymore.’”

Biggest prize ever won in Oregon

Chao, rightfully so, doesn't have to go to work anymore, especially after the trio won the biggest prize ever won in Oregon. The largest Powerball prize won in Oregon before this was a $340 million jackpot in 2005.

The Oregon Lottery Director, Mike Wells, said:

I want to offer my heartfelt congratulations to the Saephans and Ms. Chao on this historic win. Not only is the prize life-changing for the three of them and their families, it's also a huge win for the state.

Big win for the state, too

The Saephans and Chao aren't the only big winners in this. The Oregon Lottery said about a third of the sales from Powerball are returned to state beneficiaries to support economic development, veteran services, education, state parks, and more. Since the Lottery began selling tickets in April 1985, they have earned almost $15.5 billion for these programs.

In addition, the Lottery retailer Plaid Pantry in Portland, which sold Saephan the winning ticket, will also receive a $100,000 bonus.

Enjoy playing the Oregon Lottery, and please remember to play responsibly.


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