Back in 2013, Richard Zelasko hit a big-time score when he won the Mega Millions lottery jackpot. That $80-million winning ticket ended up being worth $38.8 million after the government took their cut and various fees. Unfortunately, Zelasko was in the midst of a prolonged divorce with his soon-to-be-ex-wife, Elizabeth, when he won…so his cut of the money ended up being even smaller.
Here’s what happened: Richard filed for divorce in 2011, and they were still in arbitration. Fast forward to 2013…they were waitin’ on the arbitrator’s decision when the winning ticket “arrived.” The dumbass decision? That the $1 Richard spent on the ticket was “arguably marital money and, as such, a joint investment.” Therefore, $15-million of his win went to her. Adding to the suck? The Court of Appeals agreed.
To add salt to Richard’s wounds, the arbitrator added that it was likely this wasn’t the first lotto ticket he’d purchased during the marriage, so “losses through the marriage were incurred jointly, so should winnings be shared jointly.” The good news? The divorce is now final. Richard says he’s “considering his options.”