A lottery is a type of gambling in which numbers are drawn randomly for a prize. Some governments outlaw lotteries, while others support them enough to hold a national or state lottery. Governments frequently regulate lottery games to some extent. The most common rule is that lottery tickets cannot be sold to minors, and vendors must be licensed to sell them. But did you know that a waitress who was given a winning lottery ticket experienced so much difficulty because of it?
Tonda Dickerson, a waitress who was tipped a winning lottery ticket. The jackpot was $10,000,000. She was sued by her coworkers, who demanded a cut of the profits, and the person who tipped her, who requested a truck, and she was pursued by the IRS, who demanded a gift tax.
The One-in-a-Million Opportunity
On March 7, 1999, diner Edward Seward finished his cheap meal and handed Tonda a lottery ticket for a Florida draw as a tip. It was a simple way for Seward to leave a few dollars behind, but it was a game changer for Tonda.
The results were announced on Sunday, March 13, and the Alabama woman discovered she had won a whopping $10 million jackpot, now worth around $16.4million, according to the Daily Star.
She chose to take $375,000 over 30 years, quit Waffle House, and contemplated her next steps. Tonda’s coworkers, on the other hand, had a different plan.
They accused her of breaking her promise to the other waitresses to split any winnings from the lottery ticket Seward handed over. Tonda was sued for millions of dollars by four Waffle House waitresses less than a month after winning.
Tonda told a couple at the restaurant about a deal she had struck with other waitresses to split the jackpot. Tonda turned down a court offer to keep $3 million and instead invested it in a family business she had just started.
Fortunately for her, the Alabama Supreme Court overturned the earlier decision in 2000, citing the Waffle House waitresses’ deal as illegal gambling. But Seward, the man who gave her the ticket, reappeared to claim Tonda had promised to buy him a new truck if she won. Her lawyers, like the others, claimed it was nothing more than a passing remark. (Source: The Sun)
A decade of Lawsuits, Shooting, and Attempted Kidnapping
Tonda’s ex-husband Stacy Martin kidnapped her and drove her to an isolated boat jetty in Jackson County, north Alabama, just days after Seward’s claim was denied. He refused to answer Tonda’s ringing home phone, armed with a 22-caliber handgun.
She grabbed his gun and shot him in the chest when he finally gave in. Stacy was rushed to the hospital, but no charges were filed against anyone concerning the bizarre kidnapping and shooting incident.
Tonda, however, was not absolved. For the next 12 years, she was pursued to pay $1 million in gift taxes on top of her high-income taxes.
According to Forbes, a court ruled in 2012 that she had to pay taxes on her jackpot winnings, but instead of paying the total amount, she was told to pay a percentage of the gift portion, which was $1,119,347.90.
Tonda was able to keep the majority of her winnings, which she distributed to her family. (Source: The Sun)
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