A friend has proclaimed a lottery winner after he allegedly backed out of a prize-sharing agreement.
New York City resident Leonard Owens won $1 million when he bought a lucky $2 scratch card at a bodega in 2015.
But longtime neighbor and pal Terry Hollenquest was shocked when Owens refused to hand over half of the prize.
Hollenquest told that New York Daily News that Owens broke a gentleman’s agreement they made in 2014.
Neighbors spent between $20 and $50 on lottery tickets every day.
If either of them won a significant amount, more than $100,000, they should split the winnings with the other, Hollenquest claimed.
“We’re from the south,” he said.
“All a man has is his word. As soon as you shake his hand, it’s locked and sealed.”
Hollenquest added that the agreement would be void if either man left his block in Ozone Park, Queens.
He ended up suing Owens for $300,000 in damages.
At that time he planned to represent himself in court, as he had done many times before.
He told the Daily News that he would rather do that than solve conflicts “on the street”.
It is not clear what the outcome of this lawsuit was.
“Money is the root of all evil,” Hollenquest said at the time.
But Owens was looking forward to his new life with ample savings in the bank.
“I just want to have fun and not worry about paying the bills anymore,” he told the New York State Gaming Commission.
“And I know my wife can retire now.”
Disputes like this are common among lottery winners.
Edwin Castro, the California resident who became the richest lottery winner despite taking home a $2 billion jackpot earlier this year, is being sued by a man who claims the ticket was stolen.
The winner’s attorney said in a recently filed court filing that Rivera’s claims were nothing more than a lie.