The Melville, New York woman who hit a $25 million New York Lotto jackpot in February has spoken publicly for the first time and said that contrary to her estranged husband's claims, she didn't run out on him and it was he who left her.
Connie Parker, 74, who has been married to Kenneth Parker, 77, for 16 years, said that before her husband filed for divorce in May, he emptied their safe deposit box, taking their bankbook, her passport, her birth certificate and other legal papers.
"I am hurt. I am very hurt," said Connie Parker, who has ruled out any chance of reconciliation.
The couple, who had lived a quiet life in retirement, was thrust into the limelight in May when Kenneth Parker filed for divorce and sued his wife for half of the New York State Lotto windfall.
Kenneth Parker, of Farmingdale, a retired facility manager for the now-defunct Fairchild Republic Co., told his story to the media, including an appearance on ABC's "Good Morning America," while Connie Parker remained silent about their situation. However, she contacted Newsday last week and said she couldn't allow her estranged husband to slander her anymore and had decided to break her silence.
"I was being smeared," Connie Parker said in an interview Friday.
The Parkers, who still attend the same church, have not spoken to each other since May. They are due to appear Thursday before State Supreme Court Justice Anthony J. Falanga in Mineola for a status conference in Kenneth Parker's divorce action and lawsuit.
Before they married in June 1987, a second marriage for both, Connie Parker said her husband insisted she sign a prenuptial agreement because he was wealthier, with a pension, a 401(k) plan and Social Security income, Connie Parker said.
"Because I loved him, I went along with him," Connie Parker said.
The prenuptial agreement says any money or property in Connie Parker's name is hers and whatever is in Kenneth Parker's name is his, according to her attorney, Mark Brancato of Manhasset. That applies to assets the couple acquired before as well as during the marriage, Brancato said. Because Connie Parker bought the lottery ticket with her own money, the $25 million lottery winnings belong to her, Brancato said.
That assertion is among numerous issues being disputed in court.
Kenneth Parker had said he gave his wife $20 to buy the lottery ticket. His attorneys, Dominic Barbara and Steven Kommor of Garden City, said the prenuptial agreement does not cover gambling winnings and the $25 million is a joint asset and should be split.
In addition, Kenneth Parker's attorneys said the couple had a verbal agreement to share their gambling winnings and did so in the past by reporting their gambling winnings in joint tax returns.
Lottery winners Connie and Kenneth Parker after they took the $25 million prize last February.