Powerball Winner of $1.3B is Laos Immigrant Who Has Cancer 

This week, the Oregon player who hit the $1.36 billion Powerball lottery jackpot in early April has claimed the prize.

Portland resident Cheng “Charlie” Saephan, 46, is now $422 million richer (after taxes). He chose the lump sum over 29 yearly payments. 

That decision was no doubt influenced by the fact he has been battling cancer for eight years. 

He will be splitting half the win with his friend, Lazia Chao, 55, also of Portland, as she paid for half of the tickets that Saephan bought. 

Born in Laos, Saephan moved to the U.S. from Thailand in 1994. He has worked as a machinist at an aerospace company for two decades while suffering from cancer for the last eight years. 

“I prayed to God to help me. My kids are young and I’m not that healthy,” he said.

“I will be able to provide for my family and my health… I’ll find a good doctor for myself.” 

The Winning Ticket 

Saephan purchased the tickets from a Plaid Pantry convenience store in Portland. His winning numbers were 22, 27, 44, 52, 69 and the Powerball 9. 

Saephan said he had been watching the Powerball jackpot rise with his ailing health, and praying that he might win it for his family. He would write down the Lottery numbers – 1 to 69 – on pieces of paper and sleep with them under his pillow. 

“I need some help — I don’t want to die yet, unless I have done something for my family first,” he told reporters. 

After buying the tickets, Saephan sent a picture of the stack to his wife and Chao. He captioned it, “We’re billionaires!”

That didn’t quite come true, given he chose the lump sum option after the win. But it will no doubt be good enough for him and his family. 

The prize is the eighth-largest jackpot the U.S. lottery has given out, and the largest in Oregon. 

“I want to offer my heartfelt congratulations to the Saephans and Ms. Chao on this historic win,” said Oregon Lottery Director Mike Wells in a press release.

“Not only is the prize life-changing for the three of them and their families, it’s also a huge win for the state.”

Family First 

After winning the big prize, Saephan will duly split 50% of the $422 million with Chao. 

That’s unlike a pair of friends in Iowa earlier this month, who would have got away with a fraudulently claimed $30K win, but couldn’t avoid causing a domestic disturbance that eventually unraveled their scheme.

Saephan, meanwhile, plans to spend his $211 million windfall on a large family home in Oregon and the best health care money can buy. 

He said he has no plans for lavish personal spending, given his health, but instead plans to pass nearly all of it on to his family. “How am I going to have time to spend all of this money? How long will I live?” he said. 

However, he did add that he will continue playing the lottery. He is hoping to join the astronomically lucky list of people who hit big jackpots twice.

“I might get lucky again,” he said. “I’ll keep playing.

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