WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
A Michigan man who won the $80 Mega Million lottery has been ordered to split the money with his ex-wife amid their divorce.
In 2013, Richard “Dick” Zelasko won the $80 million jackpot but a judge told him that half of his winnings would be going to his soon-to-be ex-wife Mary Beth Zelasko. Dick and Mary Beth were in the middle of a divorce settlement, the Detroit Free Press reported.
The ex-couple married in 2004 and had three children. They were separated for two years during the time heDick won the Mega Million, but a Michigan appeals court ruled that the Pontiac native must pay his ex-wife half the winnings, as their divorce was not yet finalized.
Dick won the $80 million jackpot in July 2013 but after taxes and deductions took home $ 38,873,628.
The arbitrator, John Mills, determined that Dick’s multi-million winnings were “part of the marital estate.” Therefore, he ordered that $15 million be awarded to Mary Beth, as per court documents. The divorce was finalized in 2018.
Dick’s attorney Scott G. Bassett argued in court that “Rich was lucky, but it was his luck, not Mary’s, that produced the lottery proceeds,” according to court documents.
An appeals court who reviewed the decision earlier this month came to the conclusion that the case had no errors.
Bassett told PEOPLE he had filed an appeal brief to the Court of Appeals and a reconsideration motion after the decision was made on Dick’s behalf. Bassett also noted that if the reconsideration was denied, they intend on appealing to the Michigan Supreme Court.
“An equal split of an asset acquired so long after separation, and in this case after the conclusion of the divorce arbitration hearing, is extremely unusual,” Bassett told PEOPLE. “We believe the arbitrator violated controlling Michigan law when he awarded Mrs. Zelasko half of the $30 million net lottery proceeds.”