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Mega Millions not meant for group play

April 02, 2012

What is there about money that always brings out the best in people?

In the past week, I’ve heard dozens of people lament their failure to win the Mega Millions $656 million payout that boils down to about $100 million for each of three winners after taxes if they choose to take their winnings in a lump some.

But it might be all those millions of losers who actually are better off.

Now I’m sure that for every story you hear about a lottery winner getting bilked out of his last $100,000 by some stripper named Blaze, there are 20 or 30 winners who continue to lead relatively normal lives, just with better cars.

But lately, the lottery winner universe has seemed more to consist of the entire cast of “It’s a Mad, Mad, (etc.) World.” I fully expect the next jackpot to be won by Phil Silvers.

First, there was the winner who didn’t want to come forward and employed three investment bankers to pretend that they’d won. The plot fell through when it turned out the three didn’t even know how to play the lottery, and thought “Powerball” was a sport played by women in bikinis on roller skates.

More recently, the problem has involved people who do not want to split the winnings among the people they might or might not have pooled money with to buy a large quantity of tickets.

My new claim to fame is that a month ago, Beth and I visited the actual 7-Eleven near Baltimore that sold one of three winning Mega Millions tickets last week. Never mind how we wound up there. Long story. But it does have a celebrity aura now that makes me want to go back and touch its Slurpee machine.

According to the New York Post, the winning ticket was purchased by a Haitian immigrant. If that’s true, it’s gotta be mdpetitions.com’s worst nightmare. Here you’re going to the good time and trouble to try to keep her kids from attending college, and now she’s instantly among the nation’s 1 percent.

But there is a problem, according to the Post. In its report, it claims that the winner acknowledged she was in a pool with her co-workers at McDonald’s, but says that the winning ticket was the one she bought for herself, not for the group.

I hate when that happens.

Needless to say, the 15 McDonald’s coworkers who pooled their money were not happy that the woman was claiming it was her ticket and her ticket alone. One man called the situation by a name that more or less rhymes with “tool kit.” Another said the woman might not survive if she doesn’t share.

The Post gives a detailed account of what the woman and her fast-food coworkers allege happened. And truthfully, both sides sound shakier than a cardboard treehouse.

The pool tickets, along with a list of contributors, were in the McDonald’s safe. But at the last minute, someone handed the woman an extra $5 and told her to pick up some extra. So, I guess we are to believe that each of these co-workers pitched in an extra 33 cents. On the other hand, any time you are buying tickets for yourself and someone else and there is no notary public handy‚ you are asking for trouble.

Either way, it ought to be fascinating to watch the fast-food workers scrambling for cash over the next few days. Strippers, call your service.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via email at timr@herald-mail.com.

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