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Hey! I Get Half!

How it goes when you win big and everyone comes out of the woodwork

When you win the jackpot you will feel the whole emotional spectrum from relief and gratitude to excitement, joy, and even trepidation and fear. It’s just normal for you to go through this when you get a sudden influx of a large some of money. No more bills, no more living paycheque to paycheque, and you can finally fix your car.

The Pitfalls of Money

But just because you won doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t now want you got. Someone, like a spouse or ex spouse, sibling, parent or offspring, aunt, coworker, or someone else out of the blue may claim that they are required to receive half the jackpot due to a number of factors that they are proposing that entitle them to half the jackpot. Are these claims legitimate? Will you only get half your fortune? Will that ten million dollar jackpot instantly turn into just five million dollars? Well, it depends. Here are some examples of winners who had to deal with people who wanted part of their lottery winnings.

For instance a woman sued her ex-boyfriend for half his winnings after he won the jackpot, did not tell her about it, and moved out a few days later, never to return. She came home to find all his clothes and passport gone, and learned he had quit his job. She said they had an agreement to share any lottery winnings as they had been in a common law relationship, had been buying lottery tickets together and splitting the winnings for years, but he denied that

Another woman took her nephew to court after she won the lottery. She claims he had no legal right to half the money even though both their names were on the ticket. She says she only put her nephew’s name on the ticket for “good luck” and never had any intention of sharing the jackpot if they won it, but only share winnings from smaller prizes if they won them.

And there are several instances in which a group of people at a workplace win a lottery jackpot and get sued by another coworker who feels they are rightly owed a portion of the money. Many work lottery pools are run with the stipulation that you need to pay into the purchase of the tickets each week to be included in any prize that is won.

But sometimes people forget to pay, or don’t have the funds, and ask if they can pay the missed payment on the next draw pool, having the pool operator cover their portion of the ticket purchase. Or one says they are friends with the people in the pool but never have contributed to purchasing tickets. They still believe they should share in the winnings for whatever reason.

The outcome of the above examples is irrelevant as they are just to show you what can happen if you win the lottery and someone claims they are owed half. Unfortunately it can happen to you. Most times the courts will side with the lottery winner, saying “if you didn’t pay, you didn’t play. Too bad for you.” Other times, they look at the history of a couple or work lottery pool and see just how invested the person claiming they get a share was in the participation of the pool.

And lottery tickets as gifts are a problem too. If your friend gives you lottery tickets for your birthday or Christmas and you end up winning the jackpot, don’t be surprised if they claim they get half because they actually physically bought the ticket.

Legal rules come into play extensively here and sometimes the person claiming the share is awarded it. Other times they are not. Sometimes the parties work out a solution themselves, other times it can drag on in court for years.

Whenever you play lottery on your own, with your spouse or partner, or in a work or social lottery pool, make sure to cover your butt by signing your ticket (or the pool operator sign for the group as soon as you buy it. Make sure to keep the original or have a copy of the purchase receipt for the ticket. Ensure that anyone else around you understands if they are or are not getting a share of anything you win.

So if you win the big one on the lottery, be prepared for friends, family, coworkers, and strangers to come up with a reason as to why they are entitled to half of your newfound wealth.