June 21, 2019
June 21, 2019 6:29 PM EDT
A customer holds a stack of Mega Millions lottery tickets which he purchased for his office pool at a convenience store on December 17, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Getty Images
A Michigan man who won the lottery during his divorce got taken to the cleaners by his ex-wife.
Richard Anthony Zelasko, 50, learned the decision by an arbitrator who made him share half of the $80 million he won with his ex-wife, Mary Elizabeth, 48, was upheld last week by the Michigan Court of Appeals after a six-year legal battle, the Daily Mail reports.
According to the Daily Mail, the arbitrator, John Mills, determined Zelasko’s winnings are marital property and ruled “losses throughout the marriage were incurred jointly, so should winnings be shared jointly.”
Mills said: “It’s true the defendant spent $1 to purchase the winning lottery ticket, however, the dollar spent was arguably marital money and, as such, a joint investment.”
Elizabeth filed for divorce after being married to Zelasko for seven years from 2004 to 2011. During the divorce proceedings in 2013, Zelasko hit the jackpot, winning $80 million in the Mega Millions lottery. Zelasko ended up taking a lump sum payment of $38 million.
Powerball and Mega Millions lottery tickets are displayed on January 3, 2018 in San Anselmo, California. Getty Images
Zelasko had fought the arbitrator’s decision since 2013, but Mills recently passed away and Zelasko tried to void all the decisions made by the deceased arbitrator. Instead, a new arbitrator was assigned and Mill’s decisions were upheld.
The Daily Mail reports court documents detail comments by Elizabeth claiming she was the breadwinner in the marriage, earning an income in the range of $100,000 to $120,000 compared to Zelasko’s income of $36,000.
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To complicate matters further, it was claimed Elizabeth received no financial support from Zelasko for their three children.
Consequently, Elizabeth was awarded not only $15 million of the lottery winnings but also $7,000 in monthly child support.