Man Wins $30 Million Lottery, Court Rules Divorced Wife Entitled to Half

By Venus Upadhayaya, Epoch Times
June 21, 2019 Updated: June 21, 2019

A man in Michigan who won a $30 million lottery will have to share half of it with his wife, who was in the midst of divorcing him when he bought the ticket.

According to court records, Mary-Beth Zelasko filed for divorce in Oakland County Circuit Court in September of 2011, and her husband, Rich Zelasko, bought the Mega Millions ticket in 2013, reported the Oakland Press.

The couple got married in 2004 and had three children together. The divorce was not finalized until 2018, reported Detroit Free Press.

The Michigan appeals court said that since the couple was still technically married when Rich won the lottery, Mary-Beth can keep the $15 million awarded her by an arbitrator.

“Rich was lucky, but it was his luck, not Mary’s, that produced the lottery proceeds,” said an attorney for Rich in a court filing, according to Detroit Free Press.

However, arbitrator John Mills said the lottery ticket was marital property.

Rich and Mary-Beth agreed to let Mills make certain decisions during their divorce case, and no errors were found in the case by the appeals court last week.

Oakland Press reports that the $80 million Mega Millions prize resulted in $38.8 million payout.

“It’s true that defendant spent $1 to purchase the winning lottery ticket, however the dollar spent was arguably marital money and, as such, a joint investment,” said the arbitrator, according to the Oakland Press.

$768 Million Powerball Winner Told to Disappear

The attorney for a 24-year-old Wisconsin man who won the $768 million Powerball jackpot said he advised him to disappear.

Andrew Stoltmann, his attorney, told Manuel Franco to disappear from the public eye, TMJ4 reported.

“He has good common sense,” said Stoltmann. “That was my strongest advice possible.”

The attorney said that most lottery winners have less than 50 percent chance of keeping their winnings.

“Seventy percent of all lottery winners end up broke within five years of winning the lottery,” said Stoltmann.

Franco, in a press conference this week, said he is planning to help his parents and help some family members finish college.

“I really just wanted to travel the world and stuff like that,” he was quoted by TMJ4 as saying. “I’m not a big guy that’s going to go buy fancy stuff like, well, of course, I might go buy fancy stuff, but nothing too big.”

According to WISN, Franco, who used to work at Target in New Berlin, will take home more than $326 million.

Franco, before his win, had $1,000 in his bank account, CNBC reported, adding that it was his “biggest concern.”

“It’s a weird lucky feeling. It’s not natural, not normal at all,” Franco told reporters, saying that he “felt lucky” when he bought his ticket at a Speedway in New Berlin. The report said he winked at the gas station security camera when he bought the ticket.

But the pressure on Franco will come soon, if not already, according to another lawyer.

“For the next two weeks, people are going to be outside of his house,” Jason M. Kurland, a lawyer who represented other large lottery winners, told the New York Times.

“I get those letters every week,” Kurland added. “They range from congratulatory letters to individuals having a tough time asking for handouts, to organizations looking for donations, to businessmen and women asking for investors.”

Kurland said that he typically tells clients to delete their social media accounts before they claim their earnings. What’s more, he tells them to remove their address from public view and get new phone numbers.

If children are involved, they should hire security guards, he said, according to the Times.

Jack Phillips contributed to this report.

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