Lottery winner who scooped £63million jackpot during his divorce told he must give half to estranged…
A MAN who scooped a massive $80million (£62.8m) on the US lottery while getting a divorce must give half of his winnings to his estranged wife, a court has ruled.
An arbitrator said that Richard Anthony Zelasko, 50, must split the winnings with his then wife Mary Elizabeth, 48, because the money was thought to be part of the “marital estate”.
The couple from Pontiac, Michigan, got married in 2004 but the wife then filed for divorced in September 2011, court documents show.
Two years after the divorce papers were filed, Zelasko pocketed the prize money hitting the jackpot on the Mega Millions game, which netted him $38m after taxes and deductions.
Even though the couple were separated at the time the ticket was bought, the arbitrator ruled the winnings should be shared jointly.
Court documents stated that the money should be shared because “that was probably not the first lottery ticket that defendant purchased during the marriage”, and “as losses throughout the marriage were incurred jointly, so should winnings be shared jointly”.
He added: “’It’s true that defendant spent $1.00 to purchase the winning lottery ticket, however the dollar spent was arguably marital money and, as such, a joint investment.”
During their marriage Mary Elizabeth earned between $100,000 to $120,000 a year due to a career in advertising sales for Conde Nast while Zelasko made $36,000 annually.
Documents also show Zelasko did not contribute any money from his winnings towards the care of the couple’s three children before being ordered by a court to do so.
Mary Elizabeth had been awarded $15m of the lottery money in 2013 but Zelasko had been fighting the ruling ever since but a Court of Appeals in Michigan upheld that initial ruling last week.
In 2014 a court awarded Mary Elizabeth monthly child support payments from her ex-husband of more than $7,000.
But later that year the arbitrator who made the decision died before issuing her final award.
Zelasko had attempted to appeal that decision but a substitute arbitrator was appointed and the decision upheld.
In the UK, Colin and Christine Weir filed for divorce almost eight years after winning a huge £161million on the Euromillions lottery in 2011.
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