Jan 11, 2009, 3:54 pm
The winner of the $500,000 Alaska lottery to benefit a nonprofit that aids victims of sexual abuse is himself a convicted sex offender.
Alec Ahsoak, 53, came forward to claim his winnings on Saturday, said lottery organizer Abe Spicola, who owns Lucky Times Pull Tabs in Anchorage.
"He said he was going to buy a house and said he was going to donate part of it to God, and you know charity," Spicola said.
Specifically, Ahsoak said he planned to give $100,000 of the jackpot to Standing Together Against Rape, which paired up with Lucky Times to conduct the lottery, Spicola said.
Ahsoak was convicted of two counts of sexual abuse of a minor in 1993, and once again in 2000, according to the state's sex offender registry and first reported Saturday evening by KTUU, Channel 2.
Promoters billed the jackpot as the largest in state history. They drew the winning ticket Friday night, but the winner remained a mystery.
Saturday afternoon, a KTUU news crew stopped by the Lucky Times pull tab parlor to follow up on the story. The business was closed, said KTUU anchor Jill Burke.
But, she said, "As we were there, a man flagged us down and said, 'Hey, I think I'm the winner.' "
It was Ahsoak, who showed the station his winning ticket. Later, the station received an e-mail — Burke declined to say who sent it — noting that Ahsoak was listed as a sex offender.
Ahsoak told the station that he's worked hard to turn his life around, has been in treatment for the past year and wanted to use part of his winnings to help others, KTUU reported. He told the station he was raised in foster homes and at the Jesse Lee Home for Children in Seward.
Spicola said he called Ahsoak when he heard about his "checkered past" and said that if he was going to donate to a charity, he should consider STAR.
In that phone conversation, Ahsoak talked about donating $50,000 to STAR, then upped the number to $100,000, Spicola said.
"He said that God would want him to do that," Spicola said.
Becky Beck, of Anchorage, serves on the STAR board.
"What I hope doesn't happen is the results negatively flavor the intention of the lottery," Beck said.
"We struggle so hard to raise funds to do the work, to do STAR's mission. Our goal was to raise funds so that we could better assist those victims of sexual assault."
Another board member, former Anchorage state Rep. Eric Croft, learned of the lottery winner's legal history Saturday night.
"I think what it highlights is how prevalent this crime is," he said. "And we don't mind taking money from anybody to help victims of sexual assault, and we hope that he'll follow through on his commitment to give some of it back."
It was unclear Saturday exactly how much STAR's share of the lottery would be, Spicola said.
Spicola has estimated ticket sales approached 150,000 at $5 each. Lotteries and raffles can only be held in Alaska for charity, and STAR must get at least 10 percent of what's left after the prize is paid.
Ahsoak received $350,000 rather than $500,000 because organizers must withhold federal taxes, Spicola said.
Organizers plan to start selling tickets for the next lottery — to be held in July — later this month. The payout for that drawing is expected to be $250,000 to $500,000, Spicola said.
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