Brazilian lottery winner murdered after being kidnapped for prize money

The victim, who won $9 million in 2020, tried to wire money to his kidnappers. Since 2007, at least four Mega-Sena prizewinners have been killed

Citizens line up outside a lottery ticket sales point in the Ceilandia neighborhood of Brasilia in July 2020.
Citizens line up outside a lottery ticket sales point in the Ceilandia neighborhood of Brasilia in July 2020.ADRIANO MACHADO (Reuters)

The 2020 winner of the Brazilian national lottery died on September 14 after being kidnapped for his prize money. Jonas Lucas Alves Dias, 55, won 47 million reais ($9 million) in the “Mega-Sena,” the largest lottery in Brazil. Since 2007, at least four winners of the Mega-Sena prize have been murdered.

Alves Dias was found seriously injured on a highway in Hortolândia, a city of 236,000 inhabitants in the state of São Paulo. He was taken to hospital, but died later from his injuries. Two suspects have been arrested, and another two remain at large.

The 55-year-old left his home to go for a walk and never returned. Police said kidnappers held him for 20 hours before he was found on the highway. During this period, his kidnappers asked him to pay 3 million reais (around $600,000). In audios obtained by the Globo television program Fantastic, Alves Dias was heard asking his bank manager by phone to approve the transfer. A police station explained that the suspicious request was rejected because it was an “unreal” amount of money.

The Secretary of Public Security of São Paulo (SSP) reported that the criminals withdrew the equivalent of $4,000 in reais from the victim’s account. Authorities, who said that the attack was motivated by Alves Dias’ lottery win, have opened an investigation into extortion and homicide.

Police arrested two of the four suspects in the murder on Monday. Rogério de Almeida Spínola, who has a criminal record, was arrested in Santa Bárbara D’Oeste, a city 35 kilometers from Hortolândia. The arrest was confirmed by the governor of the State of São Paulo, Rodrigo García. Rebeca Messias Pereira Batista, who was identified as the owner of the bank account that received the money from Alves Dias during the kidnapping, was arrested in the same city. Two other suspects remain at large.

Although Alves Dias became a millionaire thanks to the lottery win, he maintained a humble lifestyle. He continued to live with his family in the same house in Hortolândia; he did not increase security at his home and he continued to go to the same places, almost always in his flip-flops. His neighbors told the Brazilian press that everyone in the area knew of his fortune.

The easy-going lottery winner allowed himself just a few luxuries. He quit his old job selling tools, bought a farm in a nearby town and gave a childhood friend a truck. He also covered the medical expenses of another childhood friend, who was undergoing cancer treatment. In local press reports, everyone who knew the millionaire, defined him as a man with a simple life and a good heart.

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