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Divorced couple to split Florida Lotto jackpot

Florida LotteryFlorida Lottery: Divorced couple to split Florida Lotto jackpot

Before Robert G. Swofford Jr. could come forward and claim his $60 million Lotto prize, he had to take care of some unfinished business: his divorce.

The 53-year-old Seminole County postal worker is expected to claim a $34.7 million lump-sum payout today in Tallahassee, ending weeks of mystery about who had the winning numbers - 7, 8, 28, 29, 31, 33 - in the Nov. 24 drawing.

Swofford and his wife separated three years ago. But two weeks after the winning numbers were announced, Ann Swofford served him with divorce papers and claimed a share of the prize.

Just before Christmas, the Swoffords and their lawyers hammered out an agreement. According to court documents, Swofford will pay the taxes, his wife will get $5.25 million and $1 million will be set aside to support their 11-year-old son. In return, she agreed not to seek any more of Swofford's winnings.

Most men wouldn't come out of divorce court smiling if they had to pay their ex-wife $5.25 million.

"I'm getting divorced, gladly," Swofford said Monday.

He said he might have been able to hold out for a better deal, but he was anxious to get the divorce over.

His estranged wife drove to his home when she saw that the winning ticket had been sold at a nearby store. He didn't try to hide if from her, he said, because he remembered a California case in which a lottery winner kept it a secret and then was penalized in court.

Lawyers for both sides say they expect the divorce to be finalized within the next week or two.

Judges usually look out for the welfare of any children before approving a divorce settlement, said Stann W. Givens, a Tampa attorney representing Ann Swofford.

"The child is well cared for," he said.

Swofford's attorney, William A. Greenberg of Altamonte Springs, said his client is hard-working and down-to-earth. "He won't be buying a million-dollar mansion or a fleet of Mercedes," he said.

Swofford is on leave from the U.S. Postal Service, where he is a forklift operator known to co-workers as "Bigfoot." He worked another three weeks - including overtime - after he knew he had the winning ticket. Swofford said he needed the money because he hadn't claimed the jackpot yet. His base salary is $41,000 a year, though he earned $65,000 in 2004, according to his divorce file.

Life hasn't been easy for Swofford.

In 1979, he was a Special Forces member when, he said, he was injured during parachute training at Eglin Air Force Base in northwest Florida. He was about 400 feet above the ground before his parachute finally opened and he hit the ground hard, severely injuring his arm, he said.

He has been with the postal service for 16 years. In the late 1990s, depressed and taking pain pills, he said he missed work and his mortgage company foreclosed on his home in northwest Seminole County.

In 1999, during the foreclosure process, Swofford filed for bankruptcy-court protection, staving off the sale of his home for about a year.

Despite the financial problems, Swofford has been a regular Lotto player, spending about $80 a week - $40 on each drawing. He has hit five numbers a couple of times, but about $1,800 was the most he had ever won.

Swofford normally picks 15 sets of numbers and buys 25 quick-picks, in which the lottery's computer randomly selects the numbers. For the Nov .24 drawing, he spent more than usual - $60, buying 20 extra quick-picks.

The next day, Thanksgiving, his landlady pointed out the winning ticket had been sold at a Cumberland Farms in Altamonte Springs. Swofford was pretty sure the one on State Road 436, where he usually buys his tickets, was the only Cumberland Farms in Altamonte Springs.

The landlady went out to get the newspaper, and he got his tickets, he said.

"It was the first time she had been interested in the lottery other than telling me I was wasting my money," he said.

When she pointed out that the winning ticket was a quick-pick, he put aside his regular tickets and placed his nine quick-pick tickets - each with five sets of numbers - face down, and began looking at them one at a time.

He was on the last line of the last ticket when he saw the winning numbers.

Florida Lottery spokesman Alfred Bea said his office is expecting the jackpot to be claimed at about 9 a.m. today, but he said he had no idea who the winner is.

"No one's a winner until they turn the ticket over to us and we verify it," he said.

Swofford said he plans to be generous with family and is already making plans to look for a house.

"I'm going to be able to help family and extended family," Swofford said, "and be able to get a house."

One thing will be different this time: There won't be any mortgage payments.

Orlando Sentinel

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9 comments. Last comment 12 years ago by RJOh.
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United States
Member #6676
September 3, 2004
95 Posts
Offline
Posted: January 4, 2005, 9:01 am - IP Logged

 nicely done.

--winner2b

    fja's avatar - gnome1

    United States
    Member #91
    January 19, 2002
    11924 Posts
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    Posted: January 4, 2005, 10:08 am - IP Logged

    Thats called staying ahead of the game.......Its over its like he won a 28 million dollar lottery....sorry about the taxes,,,nothing could have been done..

    "Everybody has to believe in something...I believe I'll have another beer!"   = W.C.Fields                      

      DoctorEw220's avatar - alien helmet.jpg
      Yinzer Country, PA
      United States
      Member #4067
      March 18, 2004
      2741 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: January 4, 2005, 11:25 am - IP Logged

      would the winnings he has to give to his wife count as a loss on his tax form?

      I've redone my website.  Go to www.dr-ew.com.  I kept a lot of the old stuff, and I've added some new stuff.  Look for more new stuff in the coming weeks.


        United States
        Member #379
        June 5, 2002
        11296 Posts
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        Posted: January 4, 2005, 3:27 pm - IP Logged

        Imagine the yearly complications if the prize were paid as an annuity.

          RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
          mid-Ohio
          United States
          Member #9
          March 24, 2001
          19816 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: January 4, 2005, 10:51 pm - IP Logged

          In 1999, during the foreclosure process, Swofford filed for bankruptcy-court protection, staving off the sale of his home for about a year.

          Despite the financial problems, Swofford has been a regular Lotto player, spending about $80 a week - $40 on each drawing. He has hit five numbers a couple of times, but about $1,800 was the most he had ever won.





          Now that's a guy that got his priorities in the right order.  A wife just doesn't understand these things.  I just read about another recent big jackpot winner in New York who had the same problem.

          RJOh

           * you don't need to buy more tickets, just buy a winning ticket * 
             
                       Evil Looking       

            nitabug's avatar - animaniacs07
            Madisonville Kentucky
            United States
            Member #3754
            February 18, 2004
            21 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: January 4, 2005, 11:38 pm - IP Logged

            If they were legally separated is she entitled to anything of his? My daughter is legally apart from her husband and he didn't get anything from the sale of some of her property.

              Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
              Chief Bottle Washer
              New Jersey
              United States
              Member #1
              May 31, 2000
              23259 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: January 5, 2005, 1:44 am - IP Logged
              Quote: Originally posted by nitabug on January 4, 2005


              If they were legally separated is she entitled to anything of his? My daughter is legally apart from her husband and he didn't get anything from the sale of some of her property.


              Maybe the separation agreement excludes her from new sources of income after a certain date?  If not, her lawyer needs to get on the stick.

               

              Check the State Lottery Report Card
              What grade did your lottery earn?

               

              Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
              Help eliminate computerized drawings!

                Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
                Chief Bottle Washer
                New Jersey
                United States
                Member #1
                May 31, 2000
                23259 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: January 5, 2005, 1:45 am - IP Logged
                Quote: Originally posted by RJOh on January 4, 2005



                In 1999, during the foreclosure process, Swofford filed for bankruptcy-court protection, staving off the sale of his home for about a year.

                Despite the financial problems, Swofford has been a regular Lotto player, spending about $80 a week - $40 on each drawing. He has hit five numbers a couple of times, but about $1,800 was the most he had ever won.





                Now that's a guy that got his priorities in the right order.  A wife just doesn't understand these things.  I just read about another recent big jackpot winner in New York who had the same problem.

                RJOh





                  

                 

                Check the State Lottery Report Card
                What grade did your lottery earn?

                 

                Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
                Help eliminate computerized drawings!

                  RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
                  mid-Ohio
                  United States
                  Member #9
                  March 24, 2001
                  19816 Posts
                  Offline
                  Posted: January 5, 2005, 1:53 am - IP Logged

                  If one of the parties has property worth $60 Millions,  a good lawyer will tell you a legal  separation can have a whole new definition, even an old divorce could be redefined.

                   * you don't need to buy more tickets, just buy a winning ticket * 
                     
                               Evil Looking