Woman forced to give entire $1.3m lottery jackpot to her husband

Woman forced to give entire $1.3m lottery jackpot to her husband
Postcode Lottery winner reveals 'life-changing' prize he won

A woman from California is being forced to give her $1.3 million lottery fortune to her husband as part of their divorce settlement.

On 28 December 1996, Denise Rossi filed for divorce from her husband, Thomas, after 25 years of marriage.

But, what she didn’t tell him was that 11 days prior to filing, she had won $1.3 million in the lottery (worth around $3.1 million – or £2.4 million GBP – in today’s money), after winning and splitting the jackpot with some co-workers.

Her husband only found out about the lottery win two years after their divorce when he received a letter addressed to his ex-wife from a company involved in paying out lottery winnings.

It said that the company had “helped hundreds of lottery winners like you around the country receive a lump-sum payment for the present value of their future annual lottery payments”.

Thomas Rossi’s lawyer, Mark Lerner, said: “I think he scratched his head for a while, saying: ‘What? This can’t be.’”

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Thomas got an injunction a few days after receiving the letter and finding out about his ex-wife’s winnings.

In court, a judge ruled that she had broken the laws around declaring assets and funds during divorce proceedings, and said she acted with fraud or malice.

According to court papers, Denise admitted that she hid the lottery win from her husband because she did not want him “getting his hands on them”. In order to hide it, she had the winning cheques sent to her mother’s address.

The then 49-year-old was forced to pay her ex-husband, Thomas, then 65, 20 annual instalments of $66,800, adding up to her whole lottery win.

According to the Los Angeles Times, at the time, Denise said: “I’d wanted to get out of this relationship for years.”

Thomas said Denise suddenly filing for divorce seemed bizarre to him. In 2004, he told People: “I couldn’t understand it.”

He added: “She wanted me to move out of the house very fast. It wasn’t like her to act this way.”

According to Denise’s lawyer, Connolly Oyler, there is a chance she would have been able to keep the winnings to herself if she had declared them at the time.

They explained: “I could have argued successfully that it was her separate property. Or we could have argued and we would have reached some adjustment. But the judge got mad and gave it all to him.”

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