Lottery pools at work are as common as apple pie. Usually the pool trusts one co-worker to buy the lottery tickets, and if they win the jackpot they are expected to split the winnings equally among themselves.
That was the plan when co-workers at a Maryland McDonald's pooled their money in hopes of winning the historic $640 million Mega Millions jackpot last week.
But one of the holders of Friday's three Mega Millions jackpot tickets is refusing to honor the agreement she made with her McDonald's co-workers. Now a judge might have to decide if Mirlande Wilson, 37, is telling the truth when she said she purchased the winning ticket separately from her McDonald's co-workers plan.
"We had a group plan, but I went and played by myself. [The winning ticket] wasn’t on the group plan," 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.
The Haitian immigrant who has seven children claimed she had hidden the winning ticket and would present it to lottery officials today.
But later she backtracked on her claims of knowing exactly which ticket she purchased.
"I don’t know if I won. Some of the numbers were familiar. I recognized some of them," she 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."
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.
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 "Allen", the boyfriend of McDonald's manager, Layla.
Allen claims that the night before the drawing, the owner of the McDonald's franchise store gave Wilson $5 to buy more tickets to add to the pool. Wilson purchased the tickets but took those tickets home with her.
When she learned she had the winning ticket, Wilson called her co-workers to tell them that she -- not they -- had won.
Allen was at the store with Layla when Wilson's call came in. He said he couldn't believe it.
Allen told the Post he and Layla then went to Wilson's home to confront her about the winning ticket. Though she first refused to come out, they banged on her door for 20 minutes until she finally opened it.
"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.
Since there is no way to prove her claims, the store checked the CCTV video. A store clerk says she believes the person who purchased the ticket (at the time the winning ticket was sold) was a man.
The McDonald's co-workers could take Wilson to court.
A similar court case in the past -- involving a construction worker who pooled his money with his co-workers -- claimed the winning jackpot for himself. The case was decided in favor of his co-workers.