Are you in a lottery group? Do you run a lottery group? You might want to take notice of this story of a Windsor, Ontario pizza delivery driver who is taking his lottery buddies to civil court after the group hit a $1 million prize and then left the man out in the cold when it came time to collect.
Philip Tsotsos says he was betrayed when 16 members of the group split the $1 million prize while he was left wondering what had happened to his slice. “Why wouldn’t they tell me they won?” Philip Tsotsos said. “These guys are like family to me.”
Now he wants $70,000 and court costs, but a defense attorney for the other side says Philip didn’t pay up to get into the $1 million draw.
“Mr. Tsotsos did not pay to play, so we deny that he is entitled to any of the relief that he is seeking, and we’ll be vigorously defending the claim,” Robins said. “In this instance, he did not play and he was not included.”
Tsotsos admits that he didn’t always pay up for tickets immediately, but adds that before the $1 million win, he’d never been cut off from the group for running a tab by group organizer Steven Todesco.
Tsotsos’ team says it will use text messages in court to prove that he was a member in good enough standing that others acknowledged him running a tab and they were OK with it.
Then came the draw, the win and the group of 16 ghosted Philip.
“I got online and I was just going through social media and what comes up. The same guy that’s eating my pizza is holding a million-dollar cheque, and that’s how I found out,” Philip told the CBC.
This type of story isn’t new. As long as lottery groups have been hitting jackpots, there have been people left out like Philip. Lawyers recommend you get the rules set out on the table and stick to them.
“The parties should sign a written contract, identifying each participant,” a Chicago lawyer said in 2018 after a lottery dispute case.
“Money has a way of corrupting people,” the lawyer added, “and when you get into the hundreds of millions of dollars, otherwise honest people might be tempted to present a claim they know is invalid.”
Here’s the thing about modern-day lottery groups: use Venmo. If you’re 50 and under, you’re already transferring money amongst each other for all sorts of stuff. Philip should’ve paid up via Venmo and if he couldn’t get his money in order to play the lottery, he shouldn’t have been playing the lottery.
In the old days, it would’ve been easier to feel bad for Philip. Not now. See that phone? Hammer the Venmo app and pay up.
As long as someone isn’t in a coma or in jail, there’s no reason not to pay for your lottery spot. And when it’s a digital payment, you have a record so there are no backstabbing after the group hits. You can even add a note to the payment so everyone is on the same page.
Let’s get smarter, people. Don’t be a Philip.