When Lottery Syndicates Go Wrong
Forming a syndicate can dramatically improve your chances of winning a lottery jackpot. So effective is this strategy that an estimated 1 in 3 lottery winners around the world are syndicate members.
When recruiting for such a collective, the best strategy is to overlook compulsive liars and the criminally insane so as to avoid any misunderstandings should your group strike it lucky.
But it’s not just the more cretinous elements of our society that you need to watch out for. As the following stories demonstrate, anybody can turn into a crazed sociopath when there’s big money involved. We begin with an unfortunate scouse lady.
The Nausea of Louisa Whitby
Louisa Whitby was the long-time member of a work syndicate in a small recruitment company in Liverpool. Unfortunately, due to morning sickness mother-to-be Louisa was absent the day that syndicate payments were collected. As a result, she missing out on a £2.5 million fortune. On returning to work not only did Louisa find a deserted office, she was later informed by her esteemed colleagues that she wouldn’t be receiving a penny of the group’s winnings. What a team.
The Lottery Baron
Australian, Gary Baron was member of a 16-strong group which won a $20 million Powerball jackpot in 2014. Baron, who was entrusted by his work-mates to collect the substantial winnings, promptly quit work and started spending lavishly on houses and luxury cars. More disturbingly, he also developed a penchant for fluffy bath robes. Somewhat irked by being cheated out of millions of Australian dollars, the remaining syndicate members confronted the shifty Baron who claimed that he’d won on a separate ticket. Soon after, the group began court proceedings which were eventually terminated when a private agreement was reached.
In 2013, paper pushers at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency in Swansea got into a dispute after they scooped £1 million on the Euro Millions draw. The 16 member syndicate was entitled to £62,500 each but squabbles broke out when three of the members were accused of failing to pay into the syndicate fund. Camelot and the DVLA eventually became involved in an effort to calm tensions but the outcome of this particularly sordid little dispute remains unclear.
Nursery nurse, Michelle Neale is another unfortunate to have fallen foul of spiteful syndicate members. When she discovered that her colleagues at Thackley First School had landed a £3.9 million jackpot, she was pretty excited. But her joy was short-lived when it transpired that the other 27 winners had decided that she was no longer part of the syndicate due to late payments. In response Ms Neale began legal proceedings to claim a £141,000 share.
Country Club Types
72-year old Jeanette French was member of a work syndicate at Hacienda Hills Country Club that played the Florida State Lottery. After it won £10.5 million, the group decided that French wasn’t entitled to her prize because she failed to make the weekly $1 contribution. Unsurprisingly, the syndicate was promptly taken to court by Ms French and the judge prevented them from claiming the winnings until the proceedings had been completed. Incidentally, if the group had included Mrs French as a member they would have received $1.1 million instead of $1.3 million – not that much of a difference all things considered.
Edward Hairston was part of a 22-strong lottery syndicate who all worked at a cabinetry company in Cleveland. After they won $99 million on Powerball, the members closed ranks on Hairston claiming that he hadn’t kept up with payments. Although he had missed a few leading up to the big win due to a back complaint, Hairston had in fact made regular monthly contributions of $5 for some eight years. However, this didn’t wash with the other 22 members who initially decreed that Hairston was not deserving of a cut. But after the threat of legal proceedings the group came to a private agreement with Hairston.
In the above tales of lottery woe, the issue of missed syndicate payments is a recurring theme. Such disputes arise frequently for the simple fact that most lottery syndicates are not governed by written rules. This of course makes it very difficult for the courts and lottery operators to successfully mediate between parties. So if you do plan on joining a syndicate make sure they have their little rules set firmly in stone.