When the record $640 million jackpot was drawn last Friday night, hopeful millionaires across the U.S. anxiously waited to find out if luck was on their side. For Mirlande Wilson, 37, of Baltimore, it was her lucky day, and she won a $105 million piece of the coveted jackpot. The only problem: she may have purchased the winning ticket with her co-workers, and now she doesn’t want to share.
Wilson, a single mother of seven children, admits that she did contribute to the McDonald’s “office” pool, but swears that she purchased the winning ticket separately with her own cash. “We had a group plan, but I went and played by myself. [The ‘winning’ ticket] wasn’t on the group plan,” Wilson told the New York Post, insisting she alone bought one of the three tickets that will split the record $656 million payout.
Her co-workers disagree. Suleiman Osman Husein, a shift manager and one of 15 members in the pool told the Post, “We each paid $5. She took everybody’s money!” Further corroborating Husein’s version was a man identified by the Post only as Allen, who was also part of the pool. He said Wilson bought tickets for the group at the 7-Eleven in Milford Mill, which is where the winning ticket was sold.
If the allegations against her are true, Wilson would not be the first member of a lottery-winning office pool to try to fleece her coworkers. In 2009, Americo Lopes cashed a $35 million winning lottery ticket that five former colleagues claimed he had purchased with money from their combined contributions. But unlike Wilson, who called her co-workers to boast that she (and she alone) had won, Lopes kept quiet, and it took several months for his co-workers to realize what had happened. Just a few weeks ago, a jury ordered Lopes to divide the winnings, as reported in the New York Times.
As of the time of publication, Wilson had not yet produced the winning ticket to the lottery office. And there is some cause to doubt that she won. According to Yohannes Michael, a clerk at the 7-Eleven where Wilson bought the tickets, who spoke to the New York Post, lottery officials had reviewed the store’s video and believe that a man bought the winning ticket. However, lottery rep Carole Everett would not confirm that to the Post.
If Wilson did win, she will take home an after-tax lump sum of $105 million, or $5.59 million a year for 26 years.