Oregon Lottery: Laos Immigrant Battling Cancer Wins $1.3 Billion Powerball Jackpot

Powerball jackpot winner Oregon Lottery
Oregon Lottery: The winner of a $1.3 billion Powerball jackpot is an immigrant from Laos who has been battling cancer for eight years. Cheng “Charlie” Saephan, 46, residing in Portland, revealed at an Oregon Lottery news conference that he and his 37-year-old wife, Duanpen, are claiming half of the prize money, while the other half is going to their friend, Laiza Chao, 55, from the Portland suburb of Milwaukie.

Chao had contributed $100 towards the ticket purchase. Opting for a lump sum payment, they will receive $422 million after taxes.

Saephan expressed his relief at being able to provide for his family and prioritize his health, mentioning his intention to seek quality medical care. Reflecting on his cancer diagnosis, he wondered about his future and how to manage newfound wealth with his limited time.

The winning moment came as a surprise after Chao jokingly declared them “billionaires” upon purchasing the tickets, only for their luck to manifest the following day.

Having immigrated from Laos via Thailand to the U.S. in 1994, Saephan identifies as Iu Mien, an ethnic group originating from southern China.

He shared the story of his community’s journey, from assisting American forces during the Vietnam War to seeking refuge in Thailand and eventually settling in the U.S., particularly in cities like Portland.

Saephan, who has been a resident of Portland for three decades, previously worked as a machinist for an aerospace company. In the lead-up to the draw, he diligently selected numbers and even slept with his chosen combination under his pillow, praying for a chance to secure his family’s future before his own health declined further.

The winning ticket was purchased at a Plaid Pantry convenience store in Portland in early April, ending a dry spell lasting over three months. Oregon Lottery rules require winners to disclose their identity, albeit with a year’s grace period to claim the prize.

The jackpot, with a pre-tax cash value of $621 million for a lump sum payment, ranks as the fourth largest in Powerball history and the eighth largest among all U.S. jackpot games.

This jackpot pales in comparison to the largest U.S. lottery win of $2.04 billion in California in 2022.

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