A group of employees at a McDonald’s in Maryland are outraged at co-worker Mirlande Wilson who claims she won $105million in Mega Millions but says as she bought the ticket for herself she will not share her winnings.
McDonald’s employees pooled their money for tickets for the biggest lottery in world history but Mirlande Wilson, 37, claims she herself bought one of the three tickets nationwide that will split a record $656 million payout.
“We had a group plan, but I went and played by myself. [The winning ticket] wasn’t on the group plan,” Mirlande Wilson told The New York Post.
“I was in the group, but this was separate. The winning ticket was a separate ticket,” the single mother of seven said as she and her fiancé left her home.
Mirlande Wilson, a Haitian immigrant who has seven children, claimed she had hidden the winning ticket and would present it to lottery officials today.
But later she started to backtrack saying she wasn’t sure whether she had won or not.
“I don’t know if I won. Some of the numbers were familiar. I recognized some of them,” Mirlande Wilson said.
“I don’t know why people are saying differently. I’m going to go to the lottery office today. I bought some tickets separately.”
With winning tickets also sold in Illinois and Kansas, a single Maryland winner would get an after-tax lump sum of $105 million, or $5.59 million a year for 26 years.
Mirlande Wilson’s co-workers – who make little more than $7.50 an hour – are furious at her claims she bought the winning ticket with her own money.
“She can’t do this to us!” said Suleiman Osman Husein, a shift manager and one of 15 members in the pool.
“We each paid $5. She took everybody’s money!”
A man identifying himself as the boyfriend of a McDonald’s manager named Layla, who was part of the pool, said Mirlande Wilson bought tickets for the group at the 7-Eleven in Milford Mill, where the winning ticket was sold.
The group’s tickets – along with a list of those who contributed to the pool – were left in an office safe at the fast food outlet, said the man, who gave only his first name, Allen, as he stood next to Layla. She declined to comment.
Then, late Friday, before the night’s drawing, the owner of the McDonald’s, Birul Desai, gave Mirlande Wilson $5 to buy more tickets for the pool on her way home from work, and she went back to the 7-Eleven and bought them, Allen said.
Mirlande Wilson took those tickets home with her, Allen said.
But Mirlande Wilson insisted yesterday that the batch with the winning ticket in it was bought separately by her while she was with a friend.
According to the Post, when Mirlande Wilson found out she had the winning ticket, she called coworkers and told them she – rather than they – had won.
“I won! I won!” she told a colleague.
McDonald’s worker Davon Wilson said he was there when Mirlande Wilson called.
“She said, <<Turn on the news>>. She said she had won. I thought it was a joke or something. She doesn’t seem like a person who’d do this,” Davon Wilson said.
Allen told the Post he and Layla then went to Mirlande Wilson’s home to question her about the winning ticket. Though she first refused to come out, they banged on her door for 20 minutes until she finally relented.
“These people are going to kill you. It’s not worth your life!” Allen said he told her.
“All right! All right! I’ll share, but I can’t find the ticket right now,” she said, according to Allen.
A clerk at the 7-Eleven where Mirlande Wilson bought the tickets said they believed it was a man who had bought the winning ticket and doubted that her story was actually true after lottery officials reviewed the store’s CCTV footage.
Carole Everett said they had no information about the Maryland winner and whether it was a man or a woman who bought the winning ticket.
She said: “Right now, everything is just speculation and gossip. Until someone comes through that door and hands over the winning ticket we will not know who the winner is.”
If Mirlande Wilson won, and if it was with a pooled work ticket, the situation would be very similar to that of New Jersey man Americo Lopes, who was sued by his former colleagues after he claimed he was the sole winner of a $38.5 million Mega Millions lottery jackpot.
The five construction workers say they and Americo Lopes were members of a weekly lottery pool, each person contributing $2 and Lopes would buy the tickets.
Americo Lopes claimed he played the lottery both by himself and as a member of the pool and that the winning ticket in the November 2009 drawing was one he bought for himself.
He chose the lump-sum payment option and received $24 million.
A jury found that Americo Lopes wrongly refused to share the lottery win with his friends and ordered that he pay them $4 million each.
The three jackpot-winning tickets were purchased in Red Bud, Illinois, Baltimore County, Maryland, and Kansas, where state lottery officials have said only that the ticket was sold in the northeast part of the state.
In Illinois, the Chicago Tribune said a second jackpot winner, who also has yet to step forward, bought a quick-pick ticket at a gas station and convenience store in Red Bud, a community of about 3,700 in southwestern Illinois.
There were also some big consolation prizes. Lottery officials said 161 ticket holders won $250,000 apiece by matching the first five numbers, and 897 won $10,000 apiece by matching four numbers plus the stand-alone Mega Ball.
The Maryland and Kansas winners are allowed to remain anonymous because of state laws, but in Illinois, the winner has to be publicized. Though lottery officials say they encourage winners to come forward and enjoy their 15 minutes of fame.
The winning numbers in Friday night’s drawing were 02-04-23-38-46, and the Mega Ball 23.