Winning big on the lottery can come with its issues, especially if you try and keep your new cash a secret.

Denise Rossi, from California, found this out the hard way when she won $1.3 million on the lottery jackpot and was then forced to hand her winnings over to her ex-husband after she tried to hide it during their divorce.

Denise Rossi won $1.3 million.


There’s countless of stories about people who have won big on the lottery and then blown it all on materialistic things, but there aren’t that many who have had to give it away to someone who they’ve just decided that they no longer want to have a relationship with.

Yet it does happen as Denise filed for divorce just 11 days after her big win.

However, rather than come clean about her winnings she attempted to hide them and this proved pretty tricky.

She filed for divorce from husband, Thomas Rossi, in December 1996 after 25 years of marriage. Should be simple enough, right? Wrong.

When the case reached court, a judge ruled that Ms Rossi had violated laws on disclosure of assets and funds and acted in fraud or malice.

She failed to tell her husband and the courts about the $6.6 million prize she won with five co-workers.

She argued that she didn’t want him ‘getting his hands on’ her winnings.


In her court documents, she argued that she didn’t want him ‘getting his hands on’ her winnings.

Fair enough except she wasn’t hiding the odd bit of money, she was hiding over a million dollars.

Mr Rossi didn’t find out about the win until around two years after the divorce when he got a letter from a company that pays the cash for lottery winnings.

The letter was addressed to his ex-wife, and said that the company had ‘helped hundreds of lottery winners like you around the country receive a lump-sum payment for the present value of their future annual lottery payments’.

Mr Rossi’s attorney, Mark Lerner, said: “I think he scratched his head for a while, saying: ‘What? This can’t be’.”

A judge ordered Denise to hand over money to her ex-husband in yearly sums.


So, he obtained an injunction a few days later and took his former wife to court.

There, it was ruled that his ex-wife must pay him 20 annual instalments of $66,800, although Ms Rossi’s attorney called the ruling ‘very punitive’.

Connolly Oyler, Denise’s attorney, said that if she’d have disclosed her win to him, he might have been able to help save her from losing the fortune.

He explained: “I could have argued successfully that it was her separate property.

“Or we could have argued and we would have reached some adjustment.

“But the judge got mad and gave it all to him.”

By admin