Man who won $80M jackpot during divorce must split lottery winnings

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NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 23: Mega Millions lottery tickets sit inside a convenience store in Lower Manhattan, October 23, 2018 in New York City. The $1.6 billion Mega Millions prize to be drawn Tuesday night is set to be the largest lottery prize in U.S. history. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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PONTIAC, Mich. – A Michigan man who won an $80 million lottery jackpot while going through divorce proceedings will have to share with his ex.

After taxes and deductions, Rich Zelasko’s Mega Millions winnings amounted to $38,873,628, according to court documents. Despite the couple already being separated for two years when he bought the ticket in 2013, an appeals court ruled that the windfall was part of the marital estate.

Rich Zelasko’s former spouse, Beth Zelasko, will now be awarded $15 million, an arbitrator decided, saying that it was probably not the first lottery ticket he had purchased and since “losses throughout the marriage were incurred jointly, so should winnings be shared jointly.”

Rich Zelasko’s attorney argued that “Rich was lucky, but it was his luck, not Mary’s, that produced the lottery proceeds,” according to a court filing.

The arbitrator – who the couple had agreed could make some decisions in the case – disagreed, however.

An appeals court reviewed the decision last week and found no errors.

Court documents show the two married in 2004 and have three children.

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