Lottery Winner Ordered to Share With Co-Workers

NJ man tried to keep all of betting pool's $38.5M win

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 15, 2012 12:29 AM CDT | Updated Mar 15, 2012 3:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – A New Jersey construction worker who refused to share a $38.5 million lottery jackpot with five colleagues who chipped in for tickets has been ordered to cough up the cash. After winning the Mega Millions jackpot, Americo Lopes quit his job, claiming he needed foot surgery. His co-workers, who say the group had pooled their money for lottery tickets for years and let Lopes buy them, filed suit after learning of his win, and the money has been frozen for two years, the New York Times reports.

After an often emotional trial, a jury rejected Lopes' claim that he had bought a ticket for himself at the same time he bought tickets for the pool. He was ordered to pay his co-workers $20 million of the $24 million he received after taxes. His colleagues hailed the verdict, but say that they were upset that Lopes, whom they had considered a close friend, testified that the six weren't pals. The five new millionaires plan to take a vacation, but say they'll probably return to the highway construction company where Lopes used to work with them.

Plantiffs Carlos Fernandes, right, Candido Silva Jr. shake hands after the verdict yesterday.   (AP Photo/The Star-Ledger, Frances Micklow, Pool)
Americo Lopes exits the courtroom in Elizabeth, NJ, yesterday.   (AP Photo/The Star-Ledger, Frances Micklow, Pool)
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