Saturday, August 25, 2001
Winning big isn't ticket to paradise
For some, millions lead to misery
By Mike Pulfer
The Cincinnati Enquirer
You have a lot to lose if you win the estimated $280 million Powerball lottery tonight.
You can lose your marriage. Your friends. Even your freedom. Those things have happened to many previous winners.
In 1995, a suburban Dayton, Ohio, woman went to prison for plotting to have her husband killed so she could get his $3.5 million in lottery winnings.
Powerball tickets were a big attraction at the Kentucky State Fair in in Louisville.|
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In 1994, a Medina man burned down his $175,000 house after winning $7.5 million in the Ohio Lottery, saying people wanting money made my life a living hell.
Mack Wayne Metcalf, of Independence, Ky., caught the attention of authorities last year, when he won a $65 million Powerball jackpot. At the time, he was $31,000 in arrears on child support.
Charles Rice Jr., a $5 million Lotto winner from Warren County, went to jail after he bought a new Corvette in celebration, then rammed it into a police car in 1996. It's been nothing but grief ever since he won, said his mother, Tanya Rice. Money can't buy happiness.
But players are undeterred.
I know those kinds of things can happen to you, says Joan Day, Westwood, who bought a single $1 chance on tonight's Powerball in Covington. I know that, but ... I felt lucky. It felt like the right thing to do.
Many things could happen after a win.
But the first thing would be to win, says player Tom Jordan, Lebanon.
About a dozen of his relatives and friends would share his good fortune, if there is one, but none of them, he believes, would consider himself entitled to a portion of the payoff.
I have a friend in Texas who needs heart-valve surgery, Mr. Jordan said. Probably the first thing I would do is fly down there and get him what he needs.
As long as we're spreading doubt, let's look at how you go about spreading around $280 million among members of the office pool.
Will you have to trust the ticket buyer to distribute cash? No.
The best plan for office-pool organizers who want to avoid any after-win conflicts is to make photocopies of the tickets they bought and compile a list of everyone participating, says Downtown lawyer Art Harmon Jr.
IF YOU PLAY
If you get gambling fever today, and the tracks and the riverboats are too far away, here's what you could earn with a lottery ticket.|
Powerball (Indiana, Kentucky): $280 million. Odds: 80.1 million-1.
Ohio Super Lotto Plus: $19 million. Odds: 10.8 million-1.
Indiana Lotto: $10 million. Odds: 12.3 million-1.
Kentucky Lotto: $1 million. Odds: 5.2 million-1.
Possession is nine-tenths of the law, he said. The person with the ticket can make the claim. ... If the other players have nothing in writing, they're out.
Assuming you've come to terms on who gets to share, the Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky lottery organizations will deal directly with all members of your group.
Participants will be asked to supply their Social Security numbers and to complete special forms.
And what about that co-worker who was on vacation when everyone pooled their money?
Have your dollar in before the ticket is bought, said James Hartke, a downtown divorce lawyer. If you don't get it in, you don't become a participant, no matter how many times you have played in the past.
It's contract law.
Just the prospects of winning a fortune already have couples arguing about what they'd do with the money.
Imagine a wife who wants to give each of her siblings $1 million, but her husband wants to cut out a good-for-nothing brother-in-law.
With money comes a large amount of responsibility and obligations, which causes tension and friction, says Mr. Hartke. Those combinations generally are not good for a relationship.
I'm talking large dollars here not small dollars, he clarified. A million dollars or more.
Sometimes it's difficult to keep a marriage together if there is a large amount of money won, says Mr. Hartke. People do not have to put up with the peculiarities of the other person. They can become financially independent on their own with a split or share of the proceeds.
Fred Millard, a founder of the Winner's Club, an Ohio-based social group for lottery winners, agrees.
If you've got problems before winning the lottery, you'll have problems after the lottery, said Millard. Money isn't going to solve what's wrong in your life.
What's worse, the whole family can get in the act.
And nobody ever seems to have enough money, so there are those (friends, relatives) who would probably turn to you as a source to help them out.
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