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Mega Millions office pool? Be careful

What if you win? Here are some things to consider before buying tickets for the $500 million jackpot with co-workers.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 29, 2012 12:09PM

This post comes from Jonnelle Marte at partner siteSmartMoney.


With Friday's Mega Millions jackpot at half a billion dollars, many co-workers may be getting their cash together to vie for a piece of the record jackpot. They might want to consult a lawyer first.


Image: Money (© Don Mason/Brand X/Corbis)Before tossing money into an office pool, workers can take steps to ensure they get their fair share of any winnings, says New Jersey attorney Eric Kahn. He represented the five construction workers who sued a co-worker for their cut of a $38.5 million payout. "People assume they're never going to win the jackpot," he says. "Then when they win, there's a problem." (Post continues below.)

Kahn's clients sued co-worker Americo Lopes, who they claim told them he was on leave for surgery in November 2009, when in fact he had won the big jackpot. When another person in the pool learned of his winnings a few months later, he discovered Lopes won on a date they played as a group. A jury awarded the former co-workers $4 million each.


But most employees can avoid the courtroom with some simple steps, Kahn says.

For starters, make a list of the names and numbers of everyone in the pool, he says. A written contract isn't necessary, but there should be no question about who played. Everyone who puts in cash should have a copy of the ticket. And if the person responsible for buying the ticket also plays the lottery regularly on his or her own, tickets that are meant to be shared with co-workers should be clearly identified.


"You really want to eliminate any possibility of someone saying, 'I should have been included and was not,'" says Kahn.


There should also be a provision for vacations, since even loyal participants in an office pool might miss one particular drawing, Kahn says. Set up a system where people can put in their contribution before they take off on a trip or if they just stay out of the ticket that week, he says. Last spring, one worker in New York missed out on his share of a $319 million jackpot because he didn't have the two bucks to put into the pool.


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My dad left when i was 14 years old and left my mom to raise 7 kids... she worked her @ss off to support us... after paying taxes i would hire a great tax attorney and then someone else to watch him... I wouldnt tell anyone for a while.. but i would buy my mom a new house anywhere in the Country and pay off the morgage... a new car and pay all her bills... then i would help my family members who helped my mom as much as they could.. God bless you mom...
Mar 29, 2012 4:58PM
While I don't play the lottery every time, I have a problem with the people who are saying how stupid people are who play the lottery.  Well here is my response to them.  I think it is stupid to pay $5.00 for a cup of coffee every day.  So there.  Just about everyone has a dollar or two to spare occasionally.  Why not try? The conversation or daydreaming about the grand prize  (which we know we will never win) is surely worth a dollar or two for entertainment value alone. 

What ever happened to honest people... if your in a office pool you split the money... plain and simple...

Mar 29, 2012 1:56PM
I'm stuck with the office pool.  There are only six of us and one never, ever plays.  The boss, very generously(?) said that if we ever win, she will get a million dollars anyway.  Hope that comes out of HIS share because if she's too cheap to play, then why should the rest of us have to kick in part of our winnings to her?  It hasn't been easy for me to come up with the five bucks for the lottery every few days, but I do without things to be in the pool.
Mar 29, 2012 7:33PM
I used to run an offie pool for about three years. One guy, who does not likle gambling still joined the pool.HIs remark' I do not want to be alone when you guys quit if you win the jackpot. . Everytime I used to make copies of the tickets and give it to all the members of the pool. And surprisingly one day  we got 5 numbers out of 6 in the megasmilion and won $ 10000.00.  Our one ticket matched every number except one - We missed one number.The nubmer I had was 6 and the number that was drawn was 8. WE missed winning 56 million dollars. I cashed the check and distributed the money to all the members of my pool. so it is not difficult as long you all trust each othe rand keep your word of honor.
Mar 29, 2012 3:11PM
my work does a pool, only when it get's up really high.  we did it last week, and are doing this week.  2 guys are gone in meetings all week, but we put them in, and another guy is just broke.  It's a group of 12 and we all have been here at least 6 years plus.  If we would win, I would still tell those 3 they owe me the 2 bucks, and they could get in, and if we loss... they still owe me the 2 bucks! Tongue out Best to all..... it would be so awesome!
Mar 30, 2012 3:45AM
My cousin won the lottery.  His entire life was turned upside down and not in a good way.  Not that I would not like to win,  but I have seen first hand the evil of lottery $$$.  If you win,  do not go before the cameras no matter how much they entice you to.  Good luck to all and just remember to proceed with caution.
Mar 29, 2012 10:53PM

Studies have been done on every single lottery winner as a group and it showed not one single person's life was enriched in the long term by winning these large sums of cash. All lose their privacy first of all. Some faced murder attempts by family members, death threats to others if they didn't  cough up funds, law suits from every conceivable source including one from a traffic officer who pulled over a winner and gave him a ticket. People don't change who they are  intrinsically by having more money. If you were a careful spender before you were probably going to be the same afterwards but needed help. If you didn't know how to handle money before, having a ton of it later didn't make you any wiser in the end. So many didn't know how to wisely  invest it  and also tried to help out relatives with their financial needs. An apparently good  deed, but costing them everything in the end because they couldn't say no, without being seen as greedy. Many investing in shady  business deals through those same family members who took advantage of someone's good fortune.


 One thing those who were surveyed all agreed on was this. They all said they came to take for granted the little things in life that brought them happiness. By  not having much money helped them realize. And with big money came big headaches they never dreamed of. One living in a huge home needed the resources to maintain it, the neighborhood to live in it, pay for the social circles to float around it and keep the life style one now can afford and pay for the care and maintenance of all those toys one has dreamed of having. Your former friends can't pay for those trips around the world joining you  so time to make new ones with a catch .Do people become one's friend for their money, or for who they are as a person? Because having money sure attracts so many unethical people like flies to honey. Last but not least, one starts to lose their perspective on just how valuable that single dollar really means when you have mega amounts. Poor folks will try their best to stretch it out. Lots of money tends to change people because it is a form of power. So, how would you handle having that much? We all think we would be immune, but are we? How do we spend that tax refund each year, or something left to us by grandma or a loved one? We all get tired of living day to day hand to mouth and I'm sure I'm not the only one who dreams of what life would be like to have a break from financial worries. But maybe it's a blessing in disguise we don't in the end.


There is a riddle, which most college students couldn't answer, but almost every kindergartener got immediately, it goes like this.


What is more powerful then God,

More evil then the Devil,

The rich want it

But the poor have it


Answer? Nothing.


Personally, I like the idea of what one young winner did.  Bought a simple farmhouse  out in the midwest, cut off ties to her boyfriend who had dumped her and their baby just before she bought the winning ticket. I'd do what the star in the movie Flawless did with the income she had dropped into her lap. Spend her life, finding good causes to give it away  quietly .Every single dollar came from a working ,struggling person. From personal experience, understanding starvation ,suffering, how can an individual keep such a vast wealth to themselves? In knowing how many still live in the terrible clutches of poverty and all its horrors and not step up and make a difference when fate gives the means now to make a change in the world for good. One can be a taker or giver in life .Money is simply a tool to reveal what our character is really made of. It can be our master or we make it our slave .In the end, we leave this world taking what we came into life with, nothing. Only who we have become.A wise man said,"For what shall it  profit a man,  if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul."

Mar 29, 2012 9:46PM
God Bless whoever wins this lotto. May they use this money wisely. Do not let greed rule you. Money corrupts....
Mar 29, 2012 7:15PM
If I win my sister lives in a guarded gated community, I'll be hiding there.  Don't go crazy and start giving out money to everyone. Lay low for a while for it to sink in then try and find a trustworthy attorney and accountant(good luck with to do the correct things with your money. If you have kids, keep em' close and well guarded. It's a shame but there are nuts out there who will do anything to extort cash from you. Good luck everyone!
Mar 29, 2012 6:07PM

At work we play the mega millions all the time. The girl in charge collections the $$ and gets the tickets. Puts all the tickets on a paper makes everyone who played sign their name and then makes copies for everyone.  - Just wanted to share for other people out there who play with their coworkers. :)

Mar 30, 2012 8:33AM

If I won the jackpot, I would open a new kind of homeless shelter-- a whole complex really. It would have single rooms and apartments for those folks who have a job but have lost their housing, or are trying to get back on their feet,  or for those who were willing to work at the shelter for room and board. I'd have another building for sort of the typical overnight stay, only with beds, not mats on the floor--and lockers, so their things wouldn't get stolen. There would be a big 24 hour reading room--open all the time, no matter what, no curfew, no lock-in, you can just come and get out of the rain, have a cup of tea or coffee, and you can come and go. And also bungalows or a big house or apartments--some place for moms or dads with kids -- for families, with a playground--some place safe. And I'd have vans to go find homeless people and bring them to the shelter or just give them a blanket or shoes and socks. And of course, a hot kitchen, three meals a day--for anybody. And counselors who could direct people to free clinics, help them with food stamp forms or job applications, with references--anyone who came could use our mailing address for a job application and our phone number. We'd have sort of a clearinghouse of updated info--and groups for people to talk about their problems and ge some help. I would work with medical providers and other social services-- try to coordinate care so that someone who is on the edge, maybe not yet homeless, but in danger of it because they got sick or something like that--my place would be there to fill the gap, support them between the time that Social Services ended and stability began...


Anyway, that's my dream. That's what I'd do if I won the lottery.

Mar 30, 2012 10:23AM
The first three things I would do.....

1. Get a lawyer
2. Get an accountant
3. Get a vasectomy

Mar 29, 2012 5:55PM
the best way to make sure that you did not have the winning ticket with your teammates is to make copies of the numbers and give them all the ones that chipped in. Then buy your tickets later at a diffrent place that way they cannot say that they are winners also. This will solve everything.
Mar 29, 2012 2:01PM

I am the keeper of our office pool. We make an initial copy of the tickets. We then take that copy and write everyone's name involved on the bottom. This then gets copied and handed to the participants. Pretty simple, actually.



Mar 29, 2012 3:49PM

This is how we do it at my work.  We only play when it gets real big.  Everyone puts in the same amt, 5.00.  Copy all the tickets once they are bought, list all the names of who put money in on the copies, pass the copies out to those people.  Keep the original tickets in a lock box at work safe and sound.  If we hit, one person is voted to claim the lump sum and have taxes taken out, then everyone splits the remaining amount.  If you pool with people you know and trust at work it wont be an issue.

Mar 29, 2012 5:00PM
No boss can tell you that they get a million if you win unless they put money in.  If you won, you can all just quit and she could sue you, but I doubt a jury would award her a share.   In order to qualify, she would have had to contribute consistently rather than just intimidate you.  That's workplace harrassment rather than legally being part of the group.

Mar 29, 2012 3:58PM

winning that much ching sounds amazing but also scary as h#ll.  don't know if I could handle it to be honest.

Mar 29, 2012 2:03PM
no pay no play no money!!!!
Mar 30, 2012 10:24AM
i predict one winner... a 96 year old lady with no kids/grandkids
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