A Michigan man who won an $80million lottery while he was getting divorced has been ordered to split half of the cash with his estranged wife.
Richard Anthony Zelasko, 50, has been told he must give his estranged wife Mary Elizabeth, 48, half of the money he received even though they’d been separated for two years when he won in 2013.
In 2013, while they were negotiating their marriage divorce, Richard won an $80million Mega Millions lottery.
After taxes and fees, he walked away with a lump sum of more than $38million.
Mary Elizabeth claims in court papers that she was the breadwinner, earning between $100,000 and $120,000 throughout their marriage in her job as in advertising sales for Conde Nast while Richard earned $36,000.
In his decision, arbitrator John Mills argued that while it was his first winning ticket, it was probably not the first ticket Richard bought during their marriage, often using their shared money to get it.
‘As losses throughout the marriage were incurred jointly, so should winnings be shared jointly,’ he said.
‘It’s true that the defendant spent $1.00 to purchase the winning lottery ticket, however, the dollar spent was arguably marital money and, as such, a joint investment,’ he added.
John Mills also claimed that since their separation, Richard did not give Mary Elizabeth any financial support for their three children.
Rich’s attorney had tried to argue that ‘Rich was lucky, but it was his luck, not Mary’s, that procured the lottery proceeds.’
After the initial ruling went against Rich, he appealed, with that attempt to keep the money for himself also failing.
Rich and Beth married in 2004, and have three children together. Their divorce was finalized in 2018.