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Ironman forfeits 2.76 million for illegal lottery

Credit: Jordan Bryden
Credit: Jordan Bryden

An article on reuters.com early Wednesday revealed that the World Triathlon Corporation illegally charged athletes for a “chance” to compete at the Ironman World Championship in Kona, HI. The WTC has agreed to forfeit the $2.76 million it has made in proceeds since the lottery was launched in 2012.

For $50, the illegal annual lottery allows athletes who did not qualify for the event, to enter a pool from which winners are chosen to make the trip to Kona.

A release from U.S. Attorney Lee Bentley for the Middle District of Florida stated, “Ironman would have been permitted to give away the opportunity to compete in the race but violated the law when it charged athletes money for the chance to win.”

While Ironman did not contest the allegations, they posted the following statement on the Ironman.com website:

The Ironman Kona Lottery has operated in a substantially similar manner since 1983. Several  months ago, the Tampa office of the U.S. Department of Justice contacted Ironman to claim that the Ironman Kona Lottery is not compliant with existing lottery and gambling laws. Since that time, we have fully cooperated with the Department of Justice through a series of meetings and correspondences. As a result of our cooperation, the Department of Justice and Ironman have come to an agreement to no longer operate the Kona Lottery in its current form. While we do not agree with U.S. Department of Justice’s interpretation of the relevant statutes or that there has been anything untoward or inappropriate in our operation of the Ironman Kona Lottery, Ironman chose to settle so that we can focus on our priorities – our athletes and our events.