NJ Man Must Share Mega Millions Jackpot With Co-Workers

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on March 20, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Money comes, money goes -- especially for the defendant in the New Jersey Mega Millions lawsuit. A jury has awarded $20 million to the former co-workers of Americo Lopes, leaving him with only a sixth of his original $38.5 million ($24 million after taxes) lottery jackpot.

The co-workers sued Lopes after he refused to share the winnings. They claimed he used money from a group lottery pool to buy the 2009 winning ticket. Lopes disagreed, and instead argued that he had bought the ticket for himself.

Before the six co-workers struck gold, the group had been pitching in and buying weekly lottery tickets for at least three years. Each put $2 into the pool, and Americo Lopes would return with 12 lines of tickets, explains the New York Post.

Lopes claims that, during the winning week, he also bought 12 lines of tickets for himself, reports MSNBC. The winning numbers were on a ticket he allegedly purchased with his own money.

The jury obviously didn't buy this argument. Lopes' attorney brought in more than 1,000 of his previously purchased lotto tickets, reports the New York Post. He was trying to show that the winning ticket mirrored a pattern in Lopes' past personal bets. But not one of Lopes' personal tickets was worth $12.

This little tidbit is what likely won the Mega Millions lawsuit for the plaintiffs. It showed that Americo Lopes only ever bought 12 rows of tickets when playing for the group. It was out of the ordinary for him to play that many rows for himself.

Now, don't think this is the end of the Mega Millions lawsuit. Lopes can still appeal the award. And given his anger at the verdict, it appears that he just might.

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