Ira Curry is one of this week's, possibly this year's, luckiest people. She found out Wednesday that she had one of two winning tickets in the Tuesday Mega Millions drawing, a piece of paper that entitled her to $173,819,742.50 before taxes in cash.
But Louie Turner has found a way to use Curry's extreme fortune to make a bit of money for himself. The 31-year-old Richmond, Va., computer analyst has turned Curry's good fortune, combined with a little bit of ingenuity, some quick thinking, and a stroke of luck of his own into a way to potentially score a hefty payout for himself.
In the digital age, teenagers in their parents' basements can make a quick few million dollars off a good idea, and Turner seems poised to take that idea to the bank. On Wednesday, just 14 minutes after CNN posted a story announcing that Curry was the first of the two winners (the other winner has yet to reveal his or her identity and come forward to claim the prize, but is known to have bought the winning ticket in San Jose, Calif.) to be named in the nation's second-largest Mega Millions jackpot of all time, Turner purchased the Web domain IraCurry.com for a small sum.
From there, it's all been gravy for Turner, who says he has been getting offers to purchase the site from pornography companies, investors and even a casino, for everywhere from a $500 bid from a co-worker just 30 minutes after he posted it to more than $300,000 over recent days, though he has had a hard time discerning which are real offers and which are fake. The best verifiably legitimate offer he has received came via eBay, where he has listed the domain for auction and the top bid was $14,995 as of Friday afternoon.
The gamble turned out to be worth it, but Turner tells International Business Times that there was no grand scheme behind the gambit.
"I'm a computer tech and the idea was just to see if her name was available -- nothing special," the first-time domain name sitter said. "Never had this happen before."
But for Turner the first time is apparently the charm, as he's "getting contacted from all over" and plans to turn the site over to the highest bidder who doesn't want to run it as a porn site. Asked why he thinks there is so much interest in the domain, he said he believes he's tapped into a niche market of investors who see even bigger money in the property over the long term.
"I think people are hoping [Curry] will catch wind of it and pay whatever for it," he said. "It could be a small investment for someone to purchase and then try to sell it to her for much, much more; not like she couldn't afford it. It's pretty much like real estate -- nobody else in the entire world owns this domain except for me."
Turner says he attempted to contact Curry directly to let her make an offer for the site, but that a woman who answered the phone at her Georgia home "was very nice but very swamped. She confirmed it was the Curry home and said they did not want to talk to the media or deal with anyone at this time," which he respected, leaving a number she can call if she wants to purchase the domain herself.
Whatever Turner gets for the site -- which currently consists of little more than a landing page bearing the message "Congratulations IRA CURRY" above a collection of photos of the lotto winner and information about how to make an offer for the domain -- the money will be a very welcome holiday present for him, his wife and their two children.
Turner would not be the first person to make a large profit off domain name sitting, aka cyber-squatting. It's a well-established cottage industry of sorts that has yielded many big paydays for entrepreneurs like Chris Clark, who bought Pizza.com for $20 almost 20 years ago and sold it in 2008 for $2.6 million in one of the more famous recent incidents.