A Michigan lottery sambad winner must share the $ 38 million of unforeseen earnings with his ex-wife, even though they were in the process of divorcing when he bought the ticket.
Richard Zelasko won a $ 80 million jackpot from Mega Millions in July 2013; after taxes and fees, his prize was $ 38,873,628, according to an opinion issued last week by the Michigan Court of Appeals.
The man from the suburbs of Detroit and his then wife, Mary Elizabeth Zelasko, filed for divorce at the end of 2011. The case had been submitted to arbitration and they were awaiting the arbitrator’s ruling when Richard Zelasko won the award.
The couple married in 2004 and have three children.
The arbitrator ruled that the ticket was part of the couple’s marital assets and awarded $ 15 million to the wife and divided the rest of their assets, according to the opinion. He said that “marital property includes all property acquired from the date of marriage until the date of entry of the divorce decree,” including property acquired during a separation.
The court also cited the arbitrator’s opinion that the winning lottery sambad ticket was probably not the first that Richard Zelesko bought during the marriage and that “(a) the losses throughout the marriage were incurred jointly, so the Profits must be shared together. ”
It is true that Zelasko spent $ 1 to buy the winning ticket; however, “thedollar spent was possibly marital money and, as such, a joint investment,” said the arbitrator.
The appeals court said it found no errors that require the award to change.
“It is very difficult to cancel an arbitration,” said Michael Robbins, who represents Richard Zelasko since 2015.
Robbins told CNN that the couple had been separated since 2009.
A lawyer from Mary Elizabeth Zelasko told CNN that she would not comment on the case because it is confidential.
The couple’s divorce ended in 2018.
Robbins said his client can appeal the ruling and is “considering his options.”
CNN’s Tatyana Bellamy-Walker contributed to this report.