Includes video report
GREENWICH, Conn. — Three money managers who claimed the state's record-breaking $254.2 million Powerball jackpot on Monday may still have a fight ahead of them in the court of public opinion.
A day after the trio announced they had scored the windfall on a $1 ticket one of them bought at a gas station, media reports surfaced Tuesday that the men had in fact acted on behalf of an anonymous client.
The speculation started almost immediately: Who could the mystery buyer be? A lucky hedge-fund king? A big-name banker too shy — or guilt-ridden — to go public?
But late in the day, a spokesman for the men, all colleagues at Belpointe Asset Management in Greenwich, denied the story. The men are who they say they are, he said — co-workers who formed a trust to collect the $104 million lump sum and to give much of the money away to charity.
"To be clear, there are a total of three trustees and there is no anonymous fourth participant," said spokesman Gary Lewi. "Within the next 10 days the [Putnam Avenue Family] Trust will be distributing $1 million" to veterans charities in the tri-state area.
Before the lottery winnings, Belpointe managed $85 million, according to a Securities and Exchange filing.
None of the winners, Belpointe President Greg Skidmore and co-workers Brandon Lacoff and Tim Davidson, could be reached for comment on Tuesday.
The existence of the trust, named after the street where they work, has seemed to only encourage skepticism.
It's legal to claim lottery winnings through a trust, though additional beneficiaries can be added at a later date. Moreover, the person holding the winning ticket isn't required to have purchased the ticket, Connecticut lottery officials said.
Connecticut's Department of Consumer Protection, which oversees the lottery operation, said that it believes the rules were followed and that it isn't investigating.
Curiosity had surrounded the jackpot, Connecticut's largest ever, since the winning ticket was drawn Nov. 2.
For nearly a month, the state urged the winner to come out on billboards and answered what officials called "anonymous phone calls asking about the process," said Lottery chairman Frank Farricker.
At a news conference organized by the Connecticut Lottery on Monday, Messrs. Skidmore, Lacoff and Davidson posed for pictures with an oversize check. Mr. Davidson recalled buying a single Quick Pick ticket at a Stamford gas station but revealed few additional details. The group's attorney, Jason Kurland, answered most of the crowd's questions.
The owner of the gas station where the winning ticket was purchased said he didn't remember Mr. Davidson, but then, the days had been busy.
On Tuesday, Greenwich resident Thomas Gladstone told the Greenwich Time newspaper the actual ticket belongs to one of Belpointe's clients.
He described himself as a close friend of Mr. Lacoff. Mr. Gladstone couldn't be reached for comment.
Speculation ran rampant, with possible winners ranging from a Greenwich billionaire who didn't want to be targeted by the jealous masses to a Stamford firefighter.
"Are you kidding me?" said a person who answered the phone Tuesday at Stamford's Fire Department. If someone there had won, everyone would be talking about it, he added.
Many raised another question: If the money managers weren't the real winners, why would they have participated in a media event that's not mandatory? "It's not required they come to a press conference, but it's important for the integrity of the game for people to see who won the significant jackpot," Mr. Farricker said.
Money manager Michael Holland of New Canaan, who doesn't know the men, said regardless, he still "can't believe they had their pictures taken" in a climate where Wall Street has come under intense protest.
"With Occupy Wall Street, it is so bizarre that they would put themselves out there," he said.