Since the January 13 drawing for the winner of the largest Powerball in history -- $1.5 billion -- ticket buyers have been wondering: who won? Powerball officials announced winners in California, Florida and Tennessee.
So imagine the internet's collective excitement when an apparent news story started circulating that the Powerball winner in Florida is a military widow.
If you saw the headline your immediate reaction was probably the same as mine: this could not happen to a more deserving person. If I could just spend time giving good things to our gold star families, I would.
Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent that the story was not true -- none of it, not one single word. As soon as I started reading, I smelled a rat. The widow noted that it had been hard to make ends meet since her husband had been killed in Iraq in 2014.
I sat down to do some reporting and quickly found that no one by the name of Derek Withers, the name of the "service member" (whose rank and branch were not identified), has ever been listed as KIA ... not just in Iraq, but in any of the current conflicts. I was unable to find any other news stories with the "widow's" name either -- except the single story being shared by friends hopeful that this was, in fact, true. More quick googling: the site on which the story was published, United Media Publishing, only publishes hoax news.
Womp-womp. All the good feelings, gone.
Snopes was good enough to make an entry January 18 for this particular hoax, and hopefully the original story receives no more shares. (We left a link to it out of this post on purpose.)
As a side note: I'm pretty sure there's a special place in hell for people who use military deaths for a hoax or scam.