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Man who won Sh8 billion lottery jackpot during divorce must give half to estranged wife

 Richard Anthony Zelasko spent a dollar to buy the winning lottery ticket (Image: Getty Images)

A man who won an $80million (Sh8 billion) lottery jackport while getting a divorce has been told to give half of his winnings to his estranged wife, a court has ruled.

Richard Anthony Zelasko, 50, was told he must split the money with wife Mary Elizabeth, 48, after an arbitrator deemed the prize as marital property.

The couple, from Pontiac, Michigan, were married from 2004 until September 2011, which his wife filed for divorce, court documents show.

Two years later, Zelasko scooped an $80million (Sh8 billion) Mega Millions lottery jackpot, which amounted to $38 million (Sh3.8 billion) after taxes and deductions.

Despite being separated at the time the ticket was purchased, the arbitrator ruled the winnings should be shared jointly because 'that was probably not the first lottery ticket that defendant purchased during the marriage', and 'as losses throughout the marriage were incurred jointly, so should winnings be shared jointly'.

 Zelasko has been told to split half of his winnings to his estranged wife (Image: Getty Images)

Mary Elizabeth claimed in court papers that she earned between $100,000 (Sh10 million) and $120,000 (Sh12 million) annually while Zelasko earned $36,000 (Sh3.6 million) per year during their marriage, say reports.

Arbitrator John Mills said in his decision: "It's true that defendant spent $1 (Sh100 bob) to purchase the winning lottery ticket, however the dollar spent was arguable marital money and, as such, a joint investment."

He added that Zelasko did not give his wife any financial support for their three children since their separation.

In 2013, Mary Elizabeth was awarded $15 million (Sh1.5 billion) of the lottery money, and in 2014, she was given monthly child support payments of more than $7,000 (Sh700K).

The pair have been fighting for six years over the money.

But after the original arbitrator died in 2014 before issuing the final award, Zelasko had attempted to appeal the decision.

The court denied it and appointed a different arbitrator and the decision of the first arbitrator was upheld on June 13.

Zelasko has been told to split half of his winnings to his estranged wife (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

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