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Clever lottery players all win on handshake agreement

Michigan LotteryMichigan Lottery: Clever lottery players all win on handshake agreement

He hasn't even gotten the check yet, but Yousef Sharif already has given up three-quarters of his $2 million Michigan Lottery winnings.

And he's still smiling.

The Swartz Creek resident, a skilled trades worker at Delphi Flint East and owner of Happy Boy Market in Flint Township, won the top prize in a June 29 drawing at the International Freedom Festival in Detroit.

In a classic case of "a bird in the hand," four of the five finalists competing in the drawing decided to hedge their bets by agreeing to split the winnings no matter whose ticket was drawn.

The fifth opted out of the gentleman's agreement, preferring to take his chances at claiming the top prize alone or risk going home with nothing but a consolation prize of $5,000.

"We did it in the last five minutes before we went on stage, knowing four of us would pull only $5,000 or all of us would be winners," said Sharif, 56. "We did it on a handshake and a small piece of paper. The fifth gentleman was very upset when it was over. But it was his choice not to join us."

As a result, Sharif and finalists from Kalamazoo, Muskegon and Richland each will get a $500,000 bonanza, before taxes.

"We all felt elated because we were going to split it," finalist Thomas Schultz of Muskegon said about Sharif's win.

Schultz, 58, said he broached the idea of sharing the prize with the others just before the drawing, and they signed a handwritten agreement witnessed by several people nearby. The quartet agreed to form the Freedom 4 Club to claim the prize; Schultz hopes the Lottery will distribute the money to the club in four to six weeks.

"We're all friends, we're all getting along real good," said Schultz, who owns a restaurant in Muskegon Heights.

State Lottery officials said it's not unusual for lottery clubs to share ticket purchases, but they've never had a group formed to share the $2-million pot.

"We've had seven live drawings, and this is the first time we've had this happen," said Lottery spokeswoman Andi Brancato.

Sharif and the other finalists qualified for the drawing by winning a $1,000 prize in a $20 Instant Lottery game. He purchased the original scratch ticket at his own store.

"I buy tickets all the time. It's part of my enjoyment," he said.

Sharif said he's meeting with his attorney and accountant this week to sort out the legalities before cashing in at the Lottery office in Lansing.

Has he had second thoughts about honoring the agreement?

"Not at all. They trusted me as I trusted them. I did it in goodwill, and I'm glad," he said. "One older lady just lost her job and another man just got divorced and lost almost everything. They need it more than I do.

"I have definitely made three new friends for life."

Sharif's wife, Haifa, agreed.

"It was our decision together," she said. "When God gives you something you can share with somebody else, it's a good feeling."

Sharif said he'll probably use his share of the winnings toward a college education for youngest son, Faris, 15.

"I don't know what else to do so far. Maybe find a retirement home in a hot climate for my health," he said.

MLive

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19 comments. Last comment 11 years ago by LOTTOMIKE.
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Posted: July 8, 2005, 11:02 am - IP Logged

I hope the guy who was greedy and missed out doesnt go berzerk and try to sue now himself saying he was like " prejudiced against by the freedom 4 club"

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    New Mexico
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    Posted: July 8, 2005, 11:12 am - IP Logged

    The man was a winner-takes-all gambler.  He bet on beating the one in five odds.  Lost.

    I'd bet he's not complaining.  More likely he's smiling, shaking hands, congratulating.

    Jack

      Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
      Chief Bottle Washer
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      Posted: July 8, 2005, 1:11 pm - IP Logged

      The man was a winner-takes-all gambler.  He bet on beating the one in five odds.  Lost.

      I'd bet he's not complaining.  More likely he's smiling, shaking hands, congratulating.

      Jack

      Acutally, he did complain.  According to one winner, "The fifth gentleman was very upset when it was over. But it was his choice not to join us."

       

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        Avatar
        New Mexico
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        Posted: July 8, 2005, 1:16 pm - IP Logged

        Ah, well..... guess I should have read it more carefully.

        I can identify fairly strongly with what he did, but not at all with how he reacted when he bet wrong.  I'd say, knowing myself as I do, that there's a middling chance I'd have made the same choice he did.

        Jack

          atlasshrugged's avatar - candle
          Alaska
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          Posted: July 8, 2005, 1:28 pm - IP Logged

          Ah, well..... guess I should have read it more carefully.

          I can identify fairly strongly with what he did, but not at all with how he reacted when he bet wrong.  I'd say, knowing myself as I do, that there's a middling chance I'd have made the same choice he did.

          Jack

          Not me, I would have gone with the 4. I'm a safety girl. My husband would have been like the one. I guess that's why he and I work so well together. We kinda put each other on middle ground. -Bonnie


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            Posted: July 8, 2005, 4:34 pm - IP Logged

            As long as they got cash.

              jeffrey's avatar - moon
              Hamilton, OH
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              Posted: July 8, 2005, 5:48 pm - IP Logged

              You always wonder if the winner will welch on the agreement. It is a real risk with everything we hear on the news. Yes, an agreement is nice but not a guarantee. Notes are nice and a binding contract but with 2 million people will run. I can understand #5 but I would have gone in on the agreement.

                MillionsWanted's avatar - 24Qa6LT

                Norway
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                Posted: July 9, 2005, 7:39 am - IP Logged

                Better to have a 4/5 chance on the $ 500,000 than having a 1/5 chance of getting the $ 2.000,000 and 4/5 chance of nothing.

                It was a good deal for everyone involved. 


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                  Posted: July 9, 2005, 10:33 am - IP Logged

                  Actually, it's "welsh"...but then you risk offending the people of Wales...

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                    New Mexico
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                    Posted: July 9, 2005, 10:55 am - IP Logged

                    Actually, it's "welsh"...but then you risk offending the people of Wales...

                    As it was, only a few jars of grape juice were offended.  Good observation.

                    Jack

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                      Posted: July 9, 2005, 12:24 pm - IP Logged

                      You see this happen alot in Poker Tournaments, where people agree to "chop" the pot.

                      Normally I don't like to chop, but in this case I think it made sense. 20% chance to win $2 Million, you are guaranteed $5,000, or you have a 100% chance at winning $400,000 (if all 5 had agreed to the split).

                      You have to take the $400,000 in that spot. Even after taxes you have a nice sum that could be invested and easily get you back up to $2 Million. Maybe not right away, but eventually.


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                        Posted: July 11, 2005, 9:37 am - IP Logged

                        As long as it's cash.

                          KyMystikal's avatar - 1457224010054
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                          Posted: July 11, 2005, 10:36 am - IP Logged

                          I was going to say I don't know why more people don't do this but then I thought about that one nasty word, "GREED". If I was in any contest like this I'de work out a deal to split it too. Splitting the prize sounds a lot better to me then $5,000.

                          I love doubles and remember, it's just a game!!!!!!

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                            Posted: July 11, 2005, 10:52 am - IP Logged

                            I was going to say I don't know why more people don't do this but then I thought about that one nasty word, "GREED". If I was in any contest like this I'de work out a deal to split it too. Splitting the prize sounds a lot better to me then $5,000.

                            Greed's a relative sort of term.... maybe it explains it.... but it's usually in the eyes of the beholder.  Another possible explanation for people not doing this sort of thing is that some folks just prefer to go against the odds in life.

                            But greed's definitely present in most of us, in most of the people we hold dear, in most everyone else walking around this planet.  Particularly when someone says, 'no' to something we want more, we're certain, than they do, or when they have something we wish we had. 

                            Jack