Lottery Winner Forced to Split $30 Million Winnings With Ex-Wife | 22 Words

There's nothing quite like the thrill of using the edge of your quarter to frantically scrape away the paper on your scratch card to reveal your fortune of winnings...

Okay, that "fortune of winnings" is usually no more than 10 dollars. But, nevertheless, nothing beats the feeling of winning something, even if it's the smallest amount...

Just imagine winning the ultimate jackpot. I'm not just talking couple of hundred bucks, here. I'm talking a couple of million. One Michigan man experienced this unbelievable bout of luck when he struck lottery gold by winning a staggering $30 million. But what was the catch?

Read on to learn all about this poor guy's not-that-good luck.

Winning the MegaMillions is usually only a dream for many...

Let's be real honest with ourselves, the chances of winning the MegaMillions are probably a million to one.

But, for those lucky few, that dream becomes a reality.

There has been a recorded total of around sixty winners in the history of the MegaMillions, which, in essence, seems like quite a lot of lucky people, with the highest win being a staggering $105 million. But, in comparison to the United States' population of 327.2 million people, it really isn't that many.

Just imagine what could be done with that much money...

The list of things that could be done if you won that sum of money is endless. Would you buy a few houses? A Lamborghini? A private jet? An island?

It makes buying a lottery ticket pretty damn tempting...

$6 is totally worth winning a couple of million, right?

Well, one Michigan man struck gold a few years ago...

In 2013, Richard Zelasko, who is now fifty-years-old, bought the winning MegaMillions ticket that won him a whopping $80 million. After taxes and deductions, Richard was left with $30 million all to himself - which certainly isn't too shabby.

Pulling the long straw...

In his winner's profile on the MegaMillions website, Richard recalled not even realizing that he had won until a month afterward, as he had left his winning ticket in his wallet while away on vacation. "That would have been a terrible time to lose your wallet," the website quoted Zelasko saying.

But there's something that Richard should have taken into consideration...

Richard was married to Mary Elizabeth from 2004 until September 2011, when the couple separated to go their own ways. Their divorce was not finalized until 2018.

You know what that means...

Despite the couple being officially separated, they were still technically married by law.

Turns out, half of Richard's winnings legally belong to his ex-wife.

Now that must have hurt...

Richard got a lawyer involved...

As anybody would do in such a ghastly situation, Richard got the courts of law involved. The argument that his lawyer put forward was that he deserved to keep the winnings for himself as it was "his luck," and not the luck of Mary Elizabeth.

The arbitrator thought otherwise, though.

The arbitrator who handled the case deemed that the winnings should be shared because "that was probably not the first lottery ticket that the defendant purchased during the marriage" and "as losses throughout the marriage were incurred jointly, so should winnings by shared jointly."

The documents don't lie...

According to the court documents, Richard's estranged wife earned between $100,000 - $120,000 annually, whilst Richard himself earned $36,000 a year during their marriage. Should that change things?

Something wasn't quite right...

via: Getty Images

A few months after Richard's big win, the arbitrator noticed that he had failed to pay child support for the three children that he and his ex-wife had together.

The couple agreed to appoint arbitrator, John Mills...

via: Getty Images

After filing for their divorce, Richard and Mary went to John Mills to "decide all contested issues" according to the court filing. However, Mills passed away in 2014, after deciding that the lottery winnings were part of the marital estate, but before the arbitration process was complete.

"All losses were shared jointly."

via: Getty Images

Before his death, Mills said per the court filing: "All losses throughout the marriage were shared jointly, so should winnings be shared jointly."

Richard was ready to put up a fight.

After Mills' death, Richard asked the court to vacate the decision previously made, arguing that the arbitrator was "biased against him" and that "death was the ultimate disqualification."

The ball most certainly wasn't in Richard's court...

After trying to appeal the decision of Mills a further two times, it was ruled out and, in 2013, Mary Elizabeth was awarded $15 million of the lottery winnings, along with child support payments of over $7,000.

In sickness and in health...

I suppose this is exactly what making vows are for...

Try to think of the positives...

There's nothing worse than having to hand over to your ex, but it's not like it's every day that you have $15 million sat in the bank, now is it?

A lesson well learned?

Perhaps this could be a valuable lesson learned for everyone. Before you buy a MegaMillions lottery ticket, make sure that your divorce is finalized first!