Mega Millions winner must pay $15 million to ex-wife

Mega Millions winner must pay $15 million to ex-wife
Now that his divorce is finalized, the Michigan man will lose a portion of his winnings to his ex-wife. A court ordered him to pay Mary Zelasko $15 million, court documents published last week show. (Source: Jordan Smith/Gray TV)

(Gray News) - Rich Zelasko beat 302,575,350 to one odds in July 2013 when he won the $80 million Mega Millions jackpot.

Zelasko chose to take a one-time lump sum payment equal to the value of the prize pool. After deductions and taxes, that left him with roughly $38 million.

He and Mary Zelasko finalized their divorce last year after a lengthy legal battle. Now, the Michigan man will lose a portion of his winnings to her.

A mutually-agreed upon arbitrator ordered him to pay his ex-wife $15 million, court documents published last week show.

The two married in October 2004 and had three children.

Mary Zelasko, who worked as a sales associate, earned between $100,000 and $120,000 a year. She filed for a divorce in September 2011.

Rich Zelasko owned a business and earned $36,000 annually. He filed a counter complaint for divorce a month after his wife.

According to the Mega Millions winners gallery, Zelasko didn’t realize he’d won the jackpot for weeks.

His winning ticket was for the July 5 drawing. He didn’t check his numbers until August 13.

Up until that point, he had simply scanned his ticket at a self-scanning device, which told him to contact lottery officials.

He didn’t.

Instead, he put it back in his wallet and went on his way. He even took a vacation and several golf trips between the time of the drawing and the time he realized he was a millionaire.

Mr. Zelasko only checked his ticket because he saw a story in a local newspaper about a winning ticket being sold at the same place he usually bought his tickets.

In November 2013, John F. Mills, the arbitrator, ruled that his lottery winnings were a part of the marital estate, saying that it was probably not the first lottery ticket he’d purchased during his marriage.

“[A]s losses throughout the marriage were incurred jointly, so should winnings be shared jointly,” Mills said.

Mills noted that despite his winnings, Mr. Zelasko had not fulfilled financial obligations to his children.

Mary Zelasko filed a motion to confirm the award and Rich Zelasko filed a counter motion to vacate it.

Mrs. Zelasko won. A trial court rejected Rich Zelasko’s claim that Mills was biased against him.

In February 2014, Mills determined that Rich Zelasko must pay $7,000 a month in child support. He appealed again on the grounds of bias.

Still, the court rejected his claim again.

In June 2014, Mills told the estranged couple that he would issue an award to incorporate all interim awards by July. Mills died on July 26, 2014, without having done so.

Rich Zelasko tried again to get the court to vacate Mills’ interim rulings, but it declined again. The court believed Mills’ ruling to be just and his death was considered not grounds for it to be overturned.

Copyright 2019 Gray Television Group, Inc. All rights reserved.