The story of Eddie Tipton, the former information-security director for the Multi-State Lottery Association who rigged the system to enable himself to win millions, has been told before—but not like Reid Forgrave tells it for the New York Times Magazine. He starts in Rob Sand's office in July 2014. Sand was an Iowa state prosecutor, and his boss had just handed him a file on a case that might not even be a crime. On Dec. 23, 2010, a Hot Lotto ticket was purchased that turned out to be worth $16.5 million. But then something weird happened: No one claimed it. Twelve months later, just two hours before the ticket was set to expire, a Des Moines law firm claimed it on behalf of a trust tied to Belize that was connected to a Quebec attorney who had two months prior tried to claim it without revealing his client.
If that sounds convoluted and questionable, the Iowa Lottery's CEO agrees. "It just absolutely stunk all over the place," he says. All Sand really had to go on were two surveillance clips from the gas station where the ticket was bought. They showed a hooded man, his face not caught by the cameras, who spoke with an ear-catching drawl. "We only had one bullet left in our revolver, and that was releasing the video," says Sand. Forgrave paints the voice captured by the video as Tipton's undoing—it was swiftly recognized by colleagues, including Jason Maher. Maher counted Tipton as a friend, so he went to great lengths to prove his suspicions wrong, using audio software to isolate the voice in the surveillance video and compare it to audio of Tipton captured by his home security cameras. "It was a complete and utter match, sound wave and everything." But that was only the tip of the iceberg. Read the full story here. (Read more Longform stories.)