Mirlande Wilson told The New York Post April 1 that she alone bought one of the three tickets nationwide that will split a record $656 million payout. However, this is where the tangled web of intrigue begins; apparently Wilson bought the alleged ticket as part of a pool with co-workers at a local McDonald’s. Her co-workers are angry at Wilson, who claims she won with a ticket she bought for herself and has no intention of sharing.
“We had a group plan, but I went and played by myself. [The winning ticket] wasn’t on the group plan. 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 in the Westport neighborhood to attend church.
Then, after continued questioning later the same day, Wilson changed her story. “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 on Monday. I bought some tickets separately.”
Now this is where things get even more twisted, Yohannes Michael, a clerk at the 7-Eleven where Wilson bought the tickets, expressed doubts about her story when he said yesterday that lottery officials have looked at the store’s video and believe that a man bought the winning ticket. Maryland Lottery representatives would not confirm that.
Since other winning tickets were also sold in Illinois and Kansas, if Wilson did win she would get an after-tax lump sum of $105 million, or $5.59 million a year for 26 years. If Wilson is the winner and if the ticket was part of her work pool, then the situation would be just like that of New Jersey lottery winner Americo Lopes, who tried to cheat five former colleagues after hitting a $24 million jackpot before a jury ordered him to spread the wealth.
“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!”
The group’s tickets — along with a list of those who contributed to the pool — were left in an office safe at the burger joint, said another man, who gave only his first name, Allen.
Then, late Friday, before the night’s drawing, the owner of the McDonald’s, Birul Desai, gave 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. Then Wilson took those tickets home with her, Allen said. But Wilson insisted that she bought the second batch with an unidentified pal — not for the pool — and that the winning ticket was among them. For the final word on the potential Mega Millions mess, Desai, the McDonald’s owner, declined to comment except to say, “It’s all bulls–t, if you ask me. It’s speculation.”