PHOENIX -- The Tempe man whose Powerball prank fooled millions of people says he never thought his hoax would spread so fast to so many people.
Nolan Daniels, a 35-year-old software engineer, said he noticed a few friends posting phony 'winning' lottery tickets after Thursday's drawing.
Daniels decided to do the same, using Microsoft Paint, to see how many of his friends he could fool.
"I had one right number," Daniels told 3TV, "and the rest I manipulated."
He said it took 15 minutes to 'paint' the winning numbers onto his losing ticket, and post a picture of it on Facebook.
Daniels put a note next to the picture, promising to give someone who "shares" the photo a million dollars.
"It was to get a laugh between friends. I wasn't expecting it to go where it was going," Daniels said.
His phony photo immediately became a social media sensation.
"It blew up overnight," he said.
The photo was shared more than two million times on Facebook, which is a website record.
After Daniels' ruse was revealed, he faced a barrage of criticism from people accusing him of spreading false hope. Several Facebookers emailed Daniels, asking for help with their medical or financial struggles.
Daniels said the stress and anxiety from the incident and Facebook firestorm against him was so severe that he checked into the hospital Tuesday morning for several hours.
"It made me feel horrible. I never imagined people would email hateful comments," Daniels said, adding he never meant for his picture to go worldwide.
Daniels said he still hopes to help one of the many random strangers who asked him for assistance, even though he did not hit the jackpot.