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Man Who Won Mega Millions Jackpot During Divorce Must Give Wife $15 Million

By Justin Morgan

After winning an $80 million Mega Millions lottery draw, a Detroit, Michigan man who was in the midst of divorce proceedings, has been ordered to give his ex-wife $15 million of the winnings.

Rich Zelasko, the man who won the $80 million draw, will, after taxes and other deductions, walk away with only $38,873,628 of the initial $80 million.

Although Rich bought the ticket 2 years after the couple’s initial separation in 2011, an appeals court ruled that the winnings are part of the marital estate reported FOX6.

Stock photo of a gavel.
(Bill Oxford on Unsplash)

John Mills, an arbitrator for the case, has decided that Beth Zelasko, Rich’s former spouse, will now be awarded $15 million, almost half of the $38,873,628 walk away amount, saying “losses throughout the marriage were incurred jointly, so should winnings be shared jointly.”

Court documents show that an attorney for Rich responded by saying “Rich was lucky, but it was his luck, not Mary’s, that produced the lottery proceeds.”

The arbitrator disagreed with the attorney’s argument.

According to Detroit Free Press, an appeals court reviewed the case and found no issue with the ruling, deciding that since the divorce wasn’t finalized until 2018, a marriage isn’t over until it’s over.

Newsweek reported that the appeals court also noted “that that was probably not the first lottery ticket that defendant purchased during the marriage and that, ‘[a]s losses throughout the marriage were incurred jointly, so should winnings be shared jointly.’”

Legal documents reveal that prior to their separation in 2011, the couple had been married since 2004 and have three children.

Another Case of Lotto Winnings Coming Between Exes

An unemployed handyman from New Jersey said he won a $273 million jackpot in the Mega Millions drawing after leaving his lucky ticket in the store.

Michael J. Weirsky, 53, of Alpha, told lottery officials on March 6 that he is the jackpot winner, coming forward to claim the prize.

He bought the ticket at the Quick Chek in Pohatcong Township, but he accidentally left it behind at the store, reported LehighValleyLive.com.

Over the weekend, during the East Coast snowstorm, Weirsky took out his two tickets to see if either were a winner. He scanned the first and threw it away after it didn’t match.

File photo of signs displaying the jackpots for Mega Millions
File photo of signs displaying the jackpots for Mega Millions and Powerball lottery drawings at a newsstand in midtown Manhattan in New York on Oct. 19, 2018. (Mike Sugar/Reuters)

But the next one came back as the jackpot winner.

Prior to the hitting the jackpot, Eileen Murray—Weirsky’s ex—had been ordered by a court of law to pay Weirsky spousal support for five years following their divorce in October of 2018.

Murray, who was said to have been the primary breadwinner of the couple’s 15-year marriage, felt that her ex’s winnings were justification enough to end the court’s previous ruling.

In an exclusive interview with Inside Edition Murray Said ”To him, [the alimony] is pocket change at this point.” Murray went on to say, ”Think about the amount of money that he has just won. What I’m paying him is a pittance.”

The Epoch Times reporter Jack Phillips contributed to this report.