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Original buyer of $1M lottery ticket identified

Massachusetts LotteryMassachusetts Lottery: Original buyer of $1M lottery ticket identified

How do you explain to your loved ones that you threw away $1 million?

Well, we'll just have to wait to find out, because Kevin Donovan isn't answering questions right now.

In fact, Donovan doesn't even want anybody to know who he is. He's been keeping a low profile since immersing himself in a dispute over a winning $1 million lottery ticket with an 82-year-old Blackstone man who found it in a trash bin.

Donovan, who is seeking to regain ownership of the ticket, has not been identified in public until now. But the Massachusetts Lottery Commission released his name recently in response to a request for previously withheld information about the dispute.

Attempts to find out where Donovan lives were not successful, but he is believed to be a resident of a nearby Massachusetts town.

"I never met him," said Edward St. John, whose refuse-to-riches story made national headlines in early October. "I have no idea who the hell he is."

A grandfatherly-looking man who is often seen rifling through trash receptacles on Main Street, St. John found the winning lottery ticket in a wastebasket inside the White Hen Pantry. The convenience store verified the winnings, and the Massachusetts Lottery Commission later proclaimed St. John the rightful owner of the ticket, pledging to award him the jackpot.

Nevertheless, the Massachusetts Lottery Commission also advised St. John that it wouldn't pay him until Donovan had been granted a hearing to press his rival claim. A decision in the hearing, held last month, is due around Jan. 15, according to lottery officials.

Efforts to reach Donovan for comment about the case have not been successful. Even though St. John attended the hearing to defend his ownership of the ticket, he didn't meet his nemesis because Donovan did not attend. A local lawyer, Daniel T. Doyle, pressed the case, with his client in absentia.

Doyle has not returned repeated phone calls for comment, though he said previously his client wishes to remain anonymous.

At the White Hen Pantry, however, Donovan is a well-known customer, according to Joe Varin, the owner of the convenience store, a popular morning stop for cigarettes, coffee and, well, lottery tickets.

"He's a good person," Varin said recently. "He'd take the shirt off his back for you. All my clerks love him."

Although Donovan comes in the store almost every day, Varin said he doesn't know much about his unlucky customer. Judging from appearances, however, Varin says Donovan seems like a hard-working, blue collar-type who makes a decent living. And he's not a compulsive gambler.

"He's not one of those that has to play the lottery," he said. "He doesn't always buy lottery tickets."

Varin, whose store is counting on a $10,000 commission for selling the winning ticket, says he feels sorry for Donovan. He made a "simple mistake" and "he shouldn't be penalized for it," the owner said. Varin thinks there should be a way to settle the dispute that "makes both sides happy."

But St. John, whose comments to the press have been few and far between until now, says he has no intention of backing down.

"Absolutely not," he says.

The way St. John sees it, he found the ticket fair and square, and nobody is going to take it away from him. After all, he found it in a wastebasket. Who can say who put it there?

"I have this lawyer deal that screwed up the whole darn works," says St. John. "If it weren't for that, I'd have my money right now."

Judging from the talk around town, most people are on St. John's side. Even the lottery commission, following the airing of Donovan's claim on the ticket, deemed the evidence presented to buttress his case "inconclusive." Officials were referring, mostly, to a recording from the store's security camera.

In a previous interview, Doyle claimed that, on the day of St. John's wastebasket windfall, Donovan had spent $600 on the Texas Hold 'em Poker game, purchasing all the tickets on the dispenser at the White Hen. Then he began sorting winners from losers, exposing only a coded bar on each ticket revealing the information -- but not the winning amounts.

Donovan inadvertently placed a winner in a pile with the losers and tossed them all of the latter tickets in the store's trash bin. The jackpot, revealed only after St. John retrieved the ticket from the refuse, turned out to be $1 million.

Doyle had said St. John was in the store watching Donovan sort his tickets before sifting through the wastebasket to fish out his client's discards. Store workers have disputed that curious detail, however, and now St. John has, too.

"Everything they're saying about me is a lie," asserted St. John.

While Donovan has a lawyer fighting on his behalf, St. John's only assistance so far has come from family members and friends. But things might not stay so simple.

Even if the lottery decides to award St. John the money, Donovan can pursue his claim in Worcester Superior Court. Conceivably, Doyle could even get an injunction barring the commission from paying St. John -- at least preliminarily. It wouldn't be impossible for St. John to defend his right to the ticket under those circumstances, but it would be more difficult.

Officials at the lottery commission say the legal basis for awarding St. John the jackpot is that lottery tickets are "bearer instruments," like certain kinds of bonds. The mere possession of such documents is all the proof of ownership required under the law.

The Call

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43 comments. Last comment 11 years ago by CASH Only.
Page 1 of 3
BabyJC's avatar - Lottery-031.jpg

United States
Member #3271
January 7, 2004
148 Posts
Offline
Posted: December 19, 2005, 8:59 am - IP Logged

Donovan should not be so sure it was even his ticket.  It really could be anyone's ticket.  Regardless, it's a bearer's instrument. St. John's mistake was telling people he found it in the trash.  Had he simply just signed the back and went to lottery headquarters to cash it, he would have received his first check of 20 immediately and none of this would be happening!

    konane's avatar - wallace
    Atlanta, GA
    United States
    Member #1265
    March 13, 2003
    3333 Posts
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    Posted: December 19, 2005, 10:13 am - IP Logged

    Donovan should not be so sure it was even his ticket.  It really could be anyone's ticket.  Regardless, it's a bearer's instrument. St. John's mistake was telling people he found it in the trash.  Had he simply just signed the back and went to lottery headquarters to cash it, he would have received his first check of 20 immediately and none of this would be happening!

    I Agree!

    Good luck to everyone!

      Avatar
      Coastal Georgia
      United States
      Member #2653
      October 30, 2003
      1866 Posts
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      Posted: December 19, 2005, 10:53 am - IP Logged

      I hope that Donovan gets a lump of coal in his stocking....

       

                                     

                    

       

       

        RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
        mid-Ohio
        United States
        Member #9
        March 24, 2001
        19825 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: December 19, 2005, 1:09 pm - IP Logged

        "In a previous interview, Doyle claimed that, on the day of St. John's wastebasket windfall, Donovan had spent $600 on the Texas Hold 'em Poker game, purchasing all the tickets on the dispenser at the White Hen. Then he began sorting winners from losers, exposing only a coded bar on each ticket revealing the information -- but not the winning amounts."

        Sounds like this Donovan was willing to waste his money but not his time if he could buy $600 worth of lottery tickets and not take time to check them completely before trashing them.  At least now he knows  his time was as valuable as his money.

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

          lottolady24's avatar - scene sunovermountains.jpg
          New Member
          West Palm Beach, Florida
          United States
          Member #14811
          May 3, 2005
          17 Posts
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          Posted: December 19, 2005, 1:30 pm - IP Logged

          A few important lessons learned here.  Donovan should've checked his tickets.  If there were too many tickets at one time for him to deal with, take them home or buy less tickets at once.  I feel sorry for the position he's in.  He must be beating himself up for that one.

          For St. John, he's been rewarded for dumpster diving, can't say the man doesn't deserve something for his find.  If nobody went through the trash can, nobody would've claimed the ticket.  Then nobody wins. 

          They can both make life pretty difficult for eachother.  I vote for canning the attorney's fees on both sides and splitting the prize.  They'll end up paying out enormous amounts just to defend their positions.   Half-a-million is better than nothing by far!

           

            Avatar
            USA
            United States
            Member #1849
            July 15, 2003
            265 Posts
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            Posted: December 19, 2005, 2:09 pm - IP Logged

            While it is a bear instrument, St. John should be more flexible. His staunch approach is not going to work or win. Let me point out something. He dind't pay for the ticket, while it is a bearer instrument, he did not pay for it. It is very fortunate, he should settle and give the other person something. By the time the lawyers are done and the time it takes to get a penny it will allot of wasted time and money. Come to an agreement. I happen to agree with LottoLady, split it. It's the most times saving cost effective way of dealing with this. St. John is going to lose this battle if he remains to stern. Half million is allot of money to find. No one should be upset with that deal, Donovan or St. john.

              Avatar

              United States
              Member #27625
              December 4, 2005
              88 Posts
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              Posted: December 19, 2005, 8:04 pm - IP Logged

              Who can say with certainty if the ticket in question was Donovan's to begin with? It was tossed in the trash, but Now he's the spoiler...what a guy. I hope St. John gets all the money. He deserves it. He picked it out of the garbage. Greed is an amazing thing, isn't it?

                justxploring's avatar - villiarna
                Wandering Aimlessly
                United States
                Member #25360
                November 5, 2005
                4461 Posts
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                Posted: December 19, 2005, 9:03 pm - IP Logged

                FIRST I READ: 

                 Although Donovan comes in the store almost every day, Varin said he doesn't know much about his unlucky customer. Judging from appearances, however, Varin says Donovan seems like a hard-working, blue collar-type who makes a decent living. And he's not a compulsive gambler.

                "He's not one of those that has to play the lottery," he said. "He doesn't always buy lottery tickets."

                 

                THEN I READ:

                In a previous interview, Doyle claimed that, on the day of St. John's wastebasket windfall, Donovan had spent $600 on the Texas Hold 'em Poker game, purchasing all the tickets on the dispenser at the White Hen.

                These statements seem to contradict themselves. Who would clean out a store spending $600 and then stand there and scratch them? Am I reading this incorrectly? That would take a lot of time. Plus, would there have been exactly 600 tickets left? Maybe I'm taking this too literally. Anyway, if he really did toss it in the trash, I feel sorry for him. But he is not entitled to one dime. Maybe I watch too much Law & Order but when they look through the trash they always say they don't need a warrant because it's public property.

                 

                 

                  TheGameGrl's avatar - character catafly.jpg
                  A long and winding road
                  United States
                  Member #17084
                  June 10, 2005
                  4525 Posts
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                  Posted: December 19, 2005, 9:51 pm - IP Logged

                  I'm glad to see that some folks can look from the outside in on this situation and make an unbias statement. The regulations are what they are, there is no getting around them. St John doesnt need to barter with this other gent. St John gained the ticket fair and square. Finders Keepers has HELD up in court.

                  This whole concept of "who paid" for the ticket is irrelevant. The regulations dont say "you must show proof of pay" Or a receipt- in order to claim a winning ticket.  The issue is: Does a disgarded ticket become fair game for the finder....answer: Yes.  I salute St.John for not bartering or negotiating. He stands by his principles :)

                  ~~Is it true, Is it kind,Is it necessary. ~~~

                   Thanks be to the giving numbers: 1621,912,119 02014

                    Avatar

                    United States
                    Member #27625
                    December 4, 2005
                    88 Posts
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                    Posted: December 19, 2005, 9:58 pm - IP Logged

                    What is Mr. Donovan's moral right to the prize?

                    What is his legal right to the prize?

                    What are St. John's rights to the prize?

                    It seems clear to me, but Courts sometimes see things I don't see.

                      Avatar
                      Coastal Georgia
                      United States
                      Member #2653
                      October 30, 2003
                      1866 Posts
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                      Posted: December 19, 2005, 10:42 pm - IP Logged

                      An argument can be made for either side, but in the end I believe that the finder of the trashed ticket will prevail.

                      I would be very surprised if it turned out any other way. 

                       

                                                     

                                    

                       

                       

                        Avatar
                        Poway CA (San Diego County)
                        United States
                        Member #3489
                        January 25, 2004
                        14120 Posts
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                        Posted: December 19, 2005, 11:58 pm - IP Logged

                        Lottery tickets are bearer instruments, cut and dry.  Also anything in the trash is fair game.  There should be NO split.  St. John is the rightful owner of the ticket.

                         

                          Avatar
                          USA
                          United States
                          Member #1849
                          July 15, 2003
                          265 Posts
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                          Posted: December 20, 2005, 6:38 am - IP Logged

                          A bearer instrument still has to be purchased, correct? I don't think this issue is as cut and dry as you say. I think it would be best to spilt simply becasue it will save everyone time and money. Get this straight, if St. John does not split it or divide it somehow HE WILL surely lose a portion of this money in lawyer fees. Regardless of right or wrong. That my friend is a fact. He is not going to keep the whole thing. People always think right and wrong with legal issues but it is not best to do so. St. John may be 100% right but he will still lose some money in his defense. Why go through all the aggravation? In my opinion also, he found the ticket,he should be appreciative. Is'nt finding even $10 a great thing, to find one million? WOW. I would gladly keep any portion I could without all the drama, even if it were half, 500k. Greed is ruling his thoughts on this right now and it could possibly be his downfall. Stay tuned. I know we're all eagerly awaiting the results of this ruling. Cheers,

                            konane's avatar - wallace
                            Atlanta, GA
                            United States
                            Member #1265
                            March 13, 2003
                            3333 Posts
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                            Posted: December 20, 2005, 8:05 am - IP Logged

                            A bearer instrument still has to be purchased, correct? I don't think this issue is as cut and dry as you say. I think it would be best to spilt simply becasue it will save everyone time and money. Get this straight, if St. John does not split it or divide it somehow HE WILL surely lose a portion of this money in lawyer fees. Regardless of right or wrong. That my friend is a fact. He is not going to keep the whole thing. People always think right and wrong with legal issues but it is not best to do so. St. John may be 100% right but he will still lose some money in his defense. Why go through all the aggravation? In my opinion also, he found the ticket,he should be appreciative. Is'nt finding even $10 a great thing, to find one million? WOW. I would gladly keep any portion I could without all the drama, even if it were half, 500k. Greed is ruling his thoughts on this right now and it could possibly be his downfall. Stay tuned. I know we're all eagerly awaiting the results of this ruling. Cheers,

                            Perhaps it's the principle of the matter.  Plus perhaps he's been advised by competent legal counsel that if he offers part of the potential win then doing so is simply opening the door for the other side to have a stronger legal claim that it never belonged to St. John in the first place.

                            My understanding of a bearer instrument, bond, lottery ticket or whatever ... it does not matter who purchased it or if they could prove they did purchase it.   It becomes the responsibility of the person who owns it to exercise due caution and maintain it where no one can get their hands on it.

                            The person in whose hands it rests at the time of turning it in for cash is the legal owner. Period.

                            Good luck to everyone!