This Lottery Winner Was Poisoned on His Way to Collect $425,000

After his death was originally attributed to "natural causes," Chicago resident Urooj Khan's body was revealed today to have contained cyanide at the very untimely time of his death.

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In June 2012, 46-year-old Chicago resident Urooj Khan won an instant scratch-off lottery ticket worth $1,000,000. The day before Khan collected the money — in the form of a $425,000 of his $600,000 lump-sum option — he fell ill and died of "natural causes." Amazingly, this coincidence didn't draw further scrutiny until an unnamed family member approached the police with suspicions that Khan's death involved foul play. Those suspicions seem to have been on to something: Chicago's medical examiner announced today that a "more expansive" toxicology test revealed trace amounts of cyanide in Khan's body. It's unclear how it was digested  — it's possible, although difficult to believe, that Khan ingested it by accident — and the medical examiner plans to disinter Khan's corpse at a later date.

The presence of poison renders the story of Khan's sudden windfall — thoroughly documented by the Illinois Lottery on its website — all the darker upon a second reading:

Khan recalls the day vividly due to the fact that he won the lottery. “I scratched the ticket, then I kept on saying, 'I hit a million!' over and over again. I jumped two feet in the air, then ran back into the store and tipped the clerk $100,” said Khan.

Khan plans on paying off his bills, mortgage and making a contribution to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. He saved a portion of the winnings to invest in his dry cleaning business. “Winning the lottery means everything to me, it will help me grow my business!” he exclaimed.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.