The one percenters get richer, but did they?

Apparently even the one percenters play the lottery. Everyone knows by now about the three Greenwich CT (USA) money managers who won the Nov 2 US $254 million Powerball jackpot. But there are increasing suspicions that they did not win for themselves or at least there is another “invisible” partner in the group who wants to stay that way.

Greenwich is a wealty community, a really really rich place.  The average home is listed for sale at nearly US $4 million. You read that right, four million dollars. So it does seem a bit ironic that a bunch of rich guys purchase a lottery ticket the day before the draw and are the only ones to win. But the world works in mysterious ways and there is no doubt that the ticket is legitimate.

But, and here is the big but, if the ticket was purchased for someone else, particularly if that person is offshore in an unfriendly nation to the USA than the buyers may have a bad publicity issue, and maybe even a legal problem.

Let’s say the group manages money for a member of the Saudi Arabia royal family. Nothing wrong with an Arab sheik winning millions but to most Americans that would seem kind of unfair but not immoral. But gambling is prohibited by the Koran, and that would not play well in a strict moslem country like Saudi Arabi a . 

And, if the winner paid the group to purchase what turned out to be a winning lottery ticket than there may be a legal problem because that could be construed as an unlawful transaction. Federal law prohibits charging a fee to purchase a lottery ticket. Sure there are many online companies that will buy your lottery ticket for you, for a price. The biggest lottery website in the USA, Lotterypost does just that through their relationship with the offshore lottery ticket broker THELOTTER. 

That scenario is unlikely in this case because the lottery has paid the lump sum winnings to a legal trust the winners set up.  And you can be sure the lottery officials did their due diligence to make sure the winning was legit.

Nagging doubts still remain though about the winners. They just don’t act like they won a whole pile of cash, even if they are money managers. Afterall, who knows the value of a buck, or a hundred million bucks more than they do. 

Here are some more facts and observations about these curious winners.

Greg Skidmore, Brandon Lacoff and Tim Davidson, all employees of the asset management firm Belpointe, were paid the lump-sum prize of $103.6 million after taxes. A lawyer for the men said previously there is no fourth winner, and Connecticut Lottery Corp. officials say that all their rules were followed, and they consider the trio the legitimate winners.

A New York publicist for the three men said the document should resolve any doubt that they are the rightful winners of the prize.“I would think it would, but human nature being as it is, probably not,” publicist Gary Lewi told Hearst Connecticut Newspapers.

In the affidavit signed on Nov. 29, the winners say they are the only lifetime beneficiaries of a trust set up for the money.

“This affidavit is made to the Connecticut Lottery Corporation with the understanding that is it is relying thereon in determining that no ineligible person, as defined under all applicable law, rules and/or regulations, is a lifetime beneficiary of principal or income of said Trust,” it reads.

The winning ticket was signed on the back by Davidson. It was purchased at a Stamford gas station on Nov. 1, a day before the drawing that yielded the biggest jackpot in Connecticut lottery history. Lottery rules generally consider the holder of a winning ticket to be the jackpot winner.

Details of the lottery documents were reported earlier Tuesday by Hearst Connecticut Newspapers and the Hartford Courant, which reported that the trust fund agreement calls for the money to transfer from the original trust, the Putnam Avenue Family Trust, to a second trust named the West Putnam Avenue Trust after one year. The affidavit pledges that there are no silent partners of the new trust.

The landlord, Thomas Gladstone, said Lacoff told him the three men were representing a client who wanted to remain anonymous.

Over the weekend, a spokesman for the trust announced the three winners were splitting a $1 million gift among five veterans’ service organizations. They said they plan to use their investment expertise to build the jackpot into even more money for charitable gifts.

Lewi told the Hearst newspapers that as far as he knows, the prize has not kept the three men from returning to work.

“They are back at work every day,” he said. “It sounds to me, based on what I’m hearing anecdotally, they’re still doing what they do every day.”

So, what do you think? These are smart guys, they are probably the only winners but embarrased by the publicity. And setting up trusts is very common for big jackpot winners, any financial professional will tell you it makes sense. 

In the end though it’s their business not anyone elses. They are not the Kardashians after all!

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