Photo: Latino Lottery Winner Must Share Millions With Co-Workers
Thursday, a New Jersey jury ruled that Americo Lopes must share his multi-million dollar lottery winnings with his former construction co-workers.
In November 2009, Lopes cashed in a lottery ticket worth $77 million alone, but his co-workers at Berto Construction say he ripped them off by not including them.
For three years, the construction workers pooled their money to buy lottery tickets with the agreement that if one of the tickets won money they would share the winnings.
When Lopes “won big” he mysteriously took leave from work to foot surgery and returned in March 2010, informing his co-workers of his good fortune.
The construction workers were happy for him until they realized that the winning ticket was purchased on a day when their pooled money was collected and Lopes was to purchase the 12 tickets for the group.
In court, Lopes stated that the winning ticket was his alone, as it was purchased with his own money. He said proof that the ticket was his alone was the fact that he routinely used numbers from a Canadian lottery win he’d had years prior. He chose those same numbers on the winner ticket, which he said proved that it was purchased with his own money, not the group’s.
In the end, the jury sided with his co-workers and Lopes was ordered to split the winnings – $24 million after taxes – with the other construction workers, awarding each $4 million.
The attorney for the five men, Eric Kahn told ABC News, “It feels good. The jury believed our clients. They are vindicated. I think they are still in some shock. It hasn’t set in yet.”