The court ordered the man to share his winnings with the wife because legally they weren't separated!
Just when things were looking up for a Rich Zelasko, fate dealt him a cruel hand. Detroit-based Zelasko had won a $30 million lottery, but his joy was short-lived. As per a report by the New York Post, he has to split his winnings with his soon to be ex-wife as they were in the midst of a divorce. Talk about bad luck! The Michigan appeals court stated that the marriage wasn't over just yet. This means his wife, Mary Beth Zelasko, can keep $15 million awarded by an arbitrator, despite her being separated from Zelasko for over two years. He brought the Mega Millions ticket in 2013. Their divorce wasn’t final until 2018.
In a court filing, an attorney for Rich Zelasko, Scott G. Bassett, said, "Rich was lucky, but it was his luck, not Mary’s, that produced the lottery proceeds." But arbitrator John Mills claimed that the lottery ticket was marital property, thus leading to this decision. The couple had entrusted Mills to make certain decisions during the divorce case. Sadly for Rich (oh, the irony), the appeals court last week found no errors.
The Mega Lottery Ticket was worth $80 million in July 2013 but he took home $38,873,628 after taxes and deductions, according to People. Rich and Mary were married in 2004 and share three children together. In a statement, Bassett said he had filed an appeal brief to the Court of Appeals and a reconsideration motion after the decision was made on behalf of Rich.
Bassett also mentioned that if the reconsideration was denied, they intended 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,. We believe the arbitrator violated controlling Michigan law when he awarded Mrs. Zelasko half of the $30 million net lottery proceeds," he said.
Social media was abuzz with comments and were divided. Amy Silverstone opined that the wife did not deserve the money. She wrote: They have been separated for two years. I think that amount of time, she isn’t entitled to anything. Divorces take time, it may not have been possible for it to have been finalized any sooner. If they separated 3-6 months ago or hadn’t actually filed for divorce then maybe it would be different. Once you have filed divorce paper then, all of you assets and money earned/won should no longer be considered “marital property”. JMO.
Meanwhile, Lirpa Foldrey added: Divorce should not have dragged out for two years. One or both of those parties must’ve kept objecting to something and was not willing to settle. They were still legally married at the time, and half of that is her’s. He’ll get along fine on his measly 15 million. Josie Ghazee believed that this was a bad decision: I don’t think she should get half, they had been separated for two years. To each, there own after that. The court was wrong to award her the money.
Michelle Williams chimed in: So he won in 2013 and has been dragging it out in court ever since? The divorce wasn't finalized until 2018. And yet he still plans to appeal to the Supreme court rather than giving half to the mother of his 3 children whom he was married to for 14yrs? This guy sounds like a real winner! Diana Wright mused: Karma has hit him hard. If he complains while still having the other half even after taxes then we know he does not deserve a cent. He should have had someone else buy the ticket for him until he was divorced - I sure did it enough times until my ink was dry lol.