Life has a funny way of offering unexpected twists and turns. One minute you’re flying high, the next minute you’re down low. The Richard Anthony Zelasko story is just one example of how quickly luck can change.
Richard Zelasko made headlines when he won the lottery. The victory, however, was followed by a series of events that eventually took a dark turn for the happy winner.
For Richer or for Poorer?
Richard Zelasko and his wife Mary Zelasko had been married for seven years when in 2011 they decided to get a divorce. The process, however, extended in time and it was only in 2018 that the legal dissolution of the marriage was finalized.
In 2013, Richard decided to test his luck. At the time, he was living separately from his estranged wife, and the couple didn’t maintain any relationship.
Richard bought a lottery ticket. At the time, the Mega Millions jackpot had reached a massive amount of 80 million dollars. Little did Richard know that his ticket purchase would turn him into an overnight millionaire.
Richard Zelasko won the Mega Millions jackpot and decided to opt for a lump sum payment. After taxes and deductions, he became 38-million-dollars richer. The Richard Zelasko lottery win was bound to change his life for the better. Richard, however, wasn’t prepared for the legal consequences of his unfinalized divorce.
Even though they’d been separated for a long time, Mary Zelasko requested a portion of the lottery price because the ticket was acquired at a time while the couple was still legally married. A statement by Mary’s attorney read that the winning ticket wasn’t the first one that Richard had bought throughout the marriage. The couple had shared the losses from the tickets that didn’t bring in any cash. Thus, the statement concluded that they should also share the winnings.
What’s shocking about the case is that Mary Zelasko earned a much higher salary than her then-husband. In 2013, the court awarded Mary 15 million dollars from Richard’s jackpot. In 2014, she was granted an additional sum of 7,000 dollars for child support.
The story gets even more unbelievable than that. In 2014, the original arbitrator responsible for overseeing the Zelasko case died before issuing an official statement. A substitute arbitrator was later on appointed, and the first decision was upheld. Richard Zelasko decided to appeal the order. On June 13, 2019, the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the decision of the newly appointed arbitrator.
Regardless of all these legislative losses, Richard Zelasko hasn’t given up yet. His attorney said that if push came to shove, the matter would be taken to the Michigan Supreme Court.
This is how Richard Zelasko lottery winner has been caught up in a lengthy legal battle to protect his millions. We don’t know who’s right, but the story is an entertaining one. We’ll keep tracking progress to find out whether Richard eventually managed to overturn all of the court and arbitration orders.
A Tale as Old as Time
The Richard Zelasko lottery prize and divorce dispute story isn’t the only one out there. There have been numerous instances of people being contacted by their estranged exes after winning the lottery. Some of these people have been taken to court, and they’ve been ordered to cough up the cash.
In 1996, Denise Rossi was ordered to split a lottery prize with her former husband. The story is quite reminiscent of Richard Zelasko’s.
Denise bought the winning ticket on December 28, 1996 – 11 days before her divorce was finalized. She ended up 1.3-million-dollars richer.
Since Denise didn’t want to share the money with her estranged husband of 25 years, she concealed news of the jackpot win until after the divorce was finalized. Mr. Rossi found out about his wife’s prize two years later.
Mr. Rossi naturally took his ex-wife to court. Because the divorce wasn’t finalized at the time of the winning and because Denise acted in a very specific way to conceal the prize, the court decided that she had to share the money with her former spouse.
Denise Rossi was ordered to pay her former husband 20 annual installments of 66,800 dollars each.
A similar turn of events took place in the UK in 2010. Nigel Page made national headlines in February 2010 when he won 56 million pounds from Euromillions. At the time, Nigel was with a new partner. He had been separated from his first wife for over 10 years at the time he became a Euromillions millionaire.
Although the divorce was long finalized and the couple no longer had legal ties to each other, the former Mrs. Page decided to seek her share out of the jackpot.
She approaches attorneys, and they built a case arguing that Nigel Page had been helping family members with the money gained from the massive lottery jackpot. As a result, his ex-wife was asking for an eight-million-pound payment.
According to media reports, Nigel Page is the first lottery winner in the country successfully sued for a portion of the money. The couple reached an out-of-court settlement, and Nigel agreed to pay his ex-wife two million pounds.
The case sets an important precedent. It shows how someone who has been out of a person’s life for a long time could come back years later and demand financial compensation.
To wrap it up, we’ll give you a final story from China.
In it, a man decided to take a preemptive measure to protect his money after winning the lottery. His plan, however, backfired.
In February 2014, Liu Xiang asked his wife for a divorce. The couple had been struggling since 2013. They’d been living separately, but the divorce had not been finalized yet. To seal the deal, Liu offered his estranged wife 250,000 yuan to finalize the legal separation of the marriage immediately. She agreed.
Only a day later, Liu Xiang cashed out a lottery prize of 4.6 million yuan that he had won from a national lottery ticket.
It became clear that Liu had pushed to finalize the divorce quickly so that he wouldn’t have to share the money with his former wife.
Soon after the finalization of the divorce, friends told the former Mrs. Xiang that her husband had won the lottery. This is how she learned that she’d been fooled.
The lady didn’t say things there. She quickly turned to the Chinese court to correct the wrongdoing that her former husband had concocted (out of greed?).
In court, she argued that the ticket was bought before the finalization of the marriage; hence, she was entitled to a portion of the money. Liu Xiang informed the court there was no premeditation, and it was a coincidence that he cashed out the millions only a day after the divorce was finalized.
Court magistrates, however, couldn’t be fooled that easily. They ordered Liu Xiang to pay his former wife 1.15 million yuan in compensation.
As you can see, timing is everything in the world of lottery. If you’re facing relationship troubles, deal with these first before moving on to testing your luck and eventually winning a prize. You never know if you’d have to share the cash otherwise.