Lottery Litigation

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Lottery Litigation
  • Author:
    William Monroe
  • Published:

One of the very rare downsides of winning the lottery can occur when a spouse or ex-spouse, family member, friend, or co-worker tries obtain a part of your winnings through their real or imagined belief that they are entitled to a portion of the prize.

Unfortunately, this type of situation can get quite ugly as large sums of money can cause people to do things they normally wouldn’t do to get their hands on some of it. And sometimes it ends up going to court.


Volatile or damaged domestic situations can be a powder keg for a lottery win. For instance, a spouse may claim that during the marriage, both partners regularly bought lottery tickets as a couple and all winnings would be shared between them, a normal situation for any couple who buy lottery tickets. However, one spouse may discover a winning ticket and decide not to tell the other spouse about the win. Within a few days to a few months later, the spouse with the winning ticket quietly moves out of the home when the other spouse is at work. They claim the lottery prize, but when the other spouse finds out, that spouse sues for their share.

Separated or divorced

Another situation that can arise is in the case of a separated or divorced couple. One of them wins the lottery and the other immediately files a lawsuit to claim all or half of the winnings. The same thing can happen with jilted lovers and ex boyfriends and girlfriends. Sometimes it’s really not about the money, but really about the revenge.

Friends and family

Friends and family members may also feel that since they gave the ticket as a gift, lent money that was used to purchase the ticket, or another reason in which they feel they are owed a portion of the winnings, may sue the winner. Your best friend from high school thirty years ago may suddenly come out from under their rock and say you two made a verbal agreement that if either of you wins a lot of money, it would be split in half between the two of you.

Office pool wins are another situation that can tie up winnings for months or years in court. For instance, a group of players at work regularly buy tickets in a pool. One of them is sick and unable to buy in for a draw. The group wins in that draw. The person who was sick might sue because even though they did not pay into that pool’s draw, they regularly have bought into it every other draw for the past five years.

Sometimes a member of a group claims that a winning ticket is one in which they purchased for themselves with their own money and was not purchased for the group draw. Not believing that to be the case, the rest of the group members may sue to get their portion of the win.

Some co-workers may suddenly sue saying they are entitled to a portion of the win even though they were not part of the group purchase and had never contributed any money themselves into the purchase of the group tickets.

Because of these lottery litigations, it’s best to know exactly what circumstances the winning ticket was purchased in, who owns the ticket, what agreements (if any, but should be in writing if there are) are in place to ensure rightful purchasers of the ticket are the only ones entitled to the win.

For group play, write all the ticket ID numbers and generated numbers down along with who had contributed money to the pool, names, dates, times, etc. For friends and family, check with the lottery operator and/or regulator to see how group claims or other types of claims are to be claimed. You and other legitimate claimants to a winning ticket need to know not only how to protect your winnings from unscrupulous claims, but when and how to sue to get what you feel you deserve.

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