January 23, 2022
Unlucky winners Winner Stories

Lottery Winner Ordered to Give Half to Ex-wife

Lottery Winner Ordered to Give Half to Ex-wife


It’s a not so lucky day when you win the lottery but then have to give half away to your ex. This is exactly the kind of situation Richard Zelasko found himself in in 2013 when he struck it lucky and took home the MegaMillions jackpot.


A Once Married Man

Fifty year old Richard had been married seven years and was father to three children when he and his wife decided to get a divorce in 2011. They appointed an arbitrator to sort out the nitty-gritty decisions. Unfortunately the process took a little longer than expected and it was only in 2018 that the divorce was finalised.


Image from: playmichiganlottery.com


Meanwhile, in 2013, Richard Zelasko bought a lottery ticket for a mere $1 and scored big by matching all the winning numbers!


Winning or Losing

At this point, Richard and his wife had been living totally separate lives for nearly three years. His wife however was adamant that half of those winnings belonged to her. Robert was apparently a bit of a gambler, not in the addict sense but he did like to try his luck at roulette and the couple often bought lottery tickets. The argument was that if she had shared in the past losses then she should also share in the winnings; seeing as they were still technically married. Richard Zelasko’s attorney did not agree and argued that it was Richard’s luck that produced the win and not Mary’s. But how much credit can we really take for luck?


Image from: harpermacleod.co.uk


In 2014, the arbitrator, John Mills, died after his decision that the lottery winnings were indeed a part of the marital estate. The arbitration process was however incomplete and a new arbitrator was appointed. Richard tried his luck and asked the court to vacate the previous decision, arguing that Mills was biased against him. The appeals court decided that Mills had made no legal error and that the decision should stand.


A Twist in the Tale

In 2013 Mary was to be awarded $15 million and in 2014 the courts ruled for her to be awarded a further $7000 in child support. However, years of court proceedings have followed as Richard fights for what he says is rightfully his. In June this year, his second appeal was denied; this time by the Michigan Court of Appeals who decided that the original arbitrator’s decision be upheld – and yet it might not end there. Richard’s attorney has said that they are considering taking it to the Michigan Supreme Court.

Now you might think that Richard really got the short end of the stick here, but turns out he may have got what he deserved. The original arbitrator, Mills, found out that Richard, despite his large win, had not been paying child support. It was also noted that Mary had been the main breadwinner throughout their marriage, earning nearly three times what Robert did from his own business – a T-shirt shop. Mary was also in custody of all three children.


This case is by far not the only one of its kind – but we’ll leave those for another day! If you’d like to stand a chance to win your very own lottery jackpot, you can  buy lottery tickets online with Sun7lottery.
Just make sure you don’t make the same mistakes Richard Zelasko did!

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