Kenyan wins Sh140m lottery

Reason to smile: Moses Bittok, a new US citizen, claims his Iowa Lottery prize with his daughter, Mindy, 4, and wife, Leonida, on Monday.

A 40-year old Kenyan has struck a jackpot in America.

For Moses Bittok, the American dream that elude so many, came in a double and suddenly, last Friday.

That morning, Mr Bittok was sworn in as an American citizen during a naturalisation ceremony.

Reason to smile: Moses Bittok of West Des Moines, a new US citizen, claims his Iowa Lottery prize with his daughter, Mindy, 4, and wife, Leonida, on Monday.

And that very night he stopped by a gas station in West Des Moines, where he lives, only to discover that he had won a $1.89 million jackpot in the Hot Lotto game offered by the Iowa Lottery.

That is equivalent to Sh140 million.

So in less that 12 hours, Mr Bittok had become a US citizen and a millionaire, according to Register, a newspaper in Des Moines, where he lives. 

"I guess only in America," Mr Bittok joked on Monday at the Iowa Lottery headquarters in Des Moines. He was accompanied by his wife, Leonida, and their four-year-old daughter, Mindy, when he claimed his prize.

Mr Bittok, who went to the US in 1989, has been a correctional [prisons] officer at the state women's prison in Mitchellville for eight years. He came to Iowa after obtaining a degree in political science from Southwest Minnesota State University. His wife is studying to become a nurse.

Like any other American would, Mr Bittok quickly discovered on Monday that winning a jackpot requires him to pay a hefty amount of taxes.

He and his wife have opted to take the jackpot in annual payments of $75,600 or Sh5.5 million for the next 25 years – $52,920 (Sh3.8 million) a year after taxes.

"This is almost like a shock at first – you don't believe it," he said.

Mr Bittok purchased his winning ticket on Wednesday at the Hy-Vee grocery store at 1725 Jordan Creek Parkway in West Des Moines, where he formerly worked as a clerk. He stopped by the grocery store because he had gone out to purchase gasoline. 

The lotto drawing was on Wednesday night, but Mr Bittok did not learn he was a winner until he validated his ticket on Friday evening. He could not claim the prize until Monday because lottery offices were closed over the weekend. 

Mr Bittok's lottery ticket was the 85th purchased in Iowa to win a prize of $1 million or more, said Iowa Lottery Vice President Mary Neubauer.

Mr Bittok and his wife said they have no special plans for spending the extra money, and he said he will continue working full time. But they do plan to establish a college fund for their daughter.

"My daughter is number one. I don't want to squander this. I want to make sure . . . that she goes to college," he said.

Hot Lotto began in April 2002, offering Powerball-style play but with easier odds. 

Mr Bittok became the fifth Iowa Lottery player to win a Hot Lotto jackpot. 

The highest prize so far went to Darlene Becker of Dubuque, a 64-year-old grandmother, who won $3.6 million (Sh262 million) in 2002. 

Hot Lotto tickets are sold in Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, South Dakota and West Virginia. 


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