Lottery winner Americo Lopes accused of being a “lottery hog” — UPDATED

by on March 14, 2012

And his fellow lottery group participants are suing for shares in the $77 million Mega Millions lottery win:

A hardhat who is refusing to split a $77 million jackpot with the longtime members of his lottery pool turned into a Judas on the stand yesterday — saying the five men were really just a bunch of nobodies.

Americo Lopes testified before a Union County jury that he was “just a co-worker” of the men he’s known for a decade, and that he “did not have to tell” them about the winning ticket he cashed alone because he played a series of lucky numbers with his personal money.

His comments drew gasps from the five plaintiffs — now suing him for $4 million each — who said they were betrayed when he kept the prize they should have split.

Lopes doesn’t sound like a very nice guy, but being mean isn’t illegal. However, if the plaintiffs can prove wrongdoing — or at least put enough doubt in the court’s mind — then their case may succeed.

I’m curious as to why they’re suing for only $4 million each. If there were 6 people in the lottery group (5 plaintiffs and the defendant), then wouldn’t the $77 million be split equally 6 ways (approximately $12.8 million each)?

If you read further in the story, the six men put in $12 total each week (I’m assuming $2 each for equal shares). So why are they laying claim to only $4 million each? Perhaps the $77 million jackpot is before taxes — the story doesn’t clarify.

Also, the whole “friends” issue in this case is irrelevant. Lucky has run many lottery groups with people who were only acquaintances, so who cares.

Here’s the main point that could solve this: Did Lopes give copies of the group tickets to all members in the group? If you are a member of a lottery group, you should insist on this. If all members have copies of the group tickets, then everyone can check for themselves to see if the group won — simple.

Your group should also have rules for all members to follow regarding the purchase of personal tickets. And when a lottery group member wins on a personal ticket, they should still inform the others in their group.


There are a lot of unanswered questions in this story. Did the group have a contract? Did they have strict rules for playing as a group? Did they, at the very least, have a signed lottery group agreement?

Lucky discusses all these things and more about running a successful and legal lottery group in his third book, the Lotto Group Kit. The instantly downloadable ebook contains all the necessary printable forms you need to help organize your lottery group and avoid such discrepancies.

Can you run a lottery group and still buy your own personal tickets? Absolutely! But there’s a right way and a wrong way — and Lucky explains how to do it right in the…

LOTTO GROUP KIT ebook

Click on image to download your copy of the Lotto Group Kit ebook!

UPDATES:

From the comments (thanks, Tino): Lopes actually won only $38.5 million — there was a second winning ticket that shared in the jackpot. (The original story did NOT note that.) And taking the cash option reduced that jackpot to $24 million before taxes (see link below). Now it makes sense…

The court has spoken and Lopes loses:

A lawyer for five construction workers says they have been awarded $4 million each by a New Jersey jury that concluded a co-worker cheated them out of their share of a lottery jackpot.

The jury in Superior Court in Elizabeth on Wednesday rejected the claims of Americo Lopes…

In situations like these, juries like to side with the plaintiffs, so it’s often up to the defendant to prove his or her individual claim to the winnings. That’s where the Lotto Group Kit can help. It’s better for groups to have set rules to follow, so they can avoid both lawsuits and hard feelings.

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