Billion-Dollar Lotto Winner’s Parents Turn Against Him Amid Ugly Dispute

Shannon Stapleton/Reuters
Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

A lottery winner who hit a billion-dollar jackpot sued his daughter’s mom for spilling to his family about his newfound wealth. And now his own dad is accusing him of lying about promising to help his family out with the funds.

“I told him… ‘You are not the son I knew,’” the winner’s father, a retired police chief in his 70s, wrote in a sworn declaration filed Friday in Portland, Maine federal court and obtained by The Daily Beast. “He got angry, calling me a ‘dictator’ and an ‘asshole.’ I have not heard from my son since, and he has not done any of [the] things he promised.”

The recipient of the fourth-largest lottery payout in U.S. history won a $1.35 billion Mega Millions jackpot last year after purchasing the winning ticket at Hometown Gas & Grill in Lebanon, Maine. “John Doe,” who has never been identified, opted to receive his money in a lump-sum payment of $723,564,144, or roughly $500 million after taxes.

They Won the Lottery—and Friends and Family Turned on Them

In November, The Daily Beast first revealed the lawsuit Doe filed against his child’s mother, “Sara Smith,” demanding hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties for allegedly telling his father, sister, and stepmother about his new billionaire status. He claimed Smith violated a non-disclosure agreement she had signed to keep Doe’s winnings under wraps until June 1, 2032, when the daughter they share will turn 18, according to the anonymous suit.

However, in her latest court filings, Smith says Doe himself told his father and stepmom about his win, a fact that Smith’s lawyers say “shatters the remaining shards of this suit.”

“We have no comment,” Daniel Nuzzi, a lawyer for Smith said in an email on Monday. Doe’s attorney, Greg Brown, also declined to comment.

On May 10, attorneys for Doe filed a motion for sanctions against Smith (also a pseudonym), arguing that she has tried to publicly expose his identity while making false claims about his conduct—including an attempt to “kidnap” their daughter, which Doe insists is patently untrue. In response, Smith, an ER nurse, clapped back at Doe with a rebuttal that included a sworn affidavit from Doe’s father. In it, the older man rakes his son over the coals for allegedly not keeping his word in the aftermath of his unexpected financial bonanza.

Things began to sour between Doe and his dad in early 2023, a month or two after Doe bought his winning ticket, Doe states in his declaration filed with the May 10 motion.

“I made the mistake of telling my father that I had won the lottery without having him sign a confidentiality agreement,” Doe says. “Our relationship deteriorated quickly thereafter. I did not tell him what I was doing with my money, how I was going to benefit my daughter, or any facts other than the simple fact that I had won.”

In his own declaration filed the same day by attorneys for Smith, Doe’s father, who is not identified in court records, claims his son has misled about a number of things since his win.

Around “February or March of 2023, my son came to my house in [REDACTED], and informed me and my wife that he won a large amount of money in the Maine State Lottery,” the father’s declaration begins. “I understand that my son has stated that he told me nothing about his money ‘other than the simple fact that I had won.’ That is not true.”

Doe’s dad says in the declaration that his son “told me a number of things he planned on doing with his money,” even though he never asked him for anything.

“For example, he told me he was going to build me a garage, and buy me some cars to fix up,” the declaration continues. “He knew I previously enjoyed working on [and] fixing up old cars. He also told me that he wanted to buy us the house that he had lived in with me and his mother (my previous wife) when he was young. He said, ‘Find out what they want for it, and I’ll pay double,’ or words to that effect. This is not something my current wife and I wanted to do.”

Billion-Dollar Mega Millions Winner Sues Baby Mama for Telling Fam About Payout

Doe also allegedly told his dad that he planned to set up a $1 million trust fund for him and that this would provide him with monthly income. He further promised he would use part of his winnings to get his father and stepmom 24-hour care at home if they ever needed it, “so that we would never need to go into assisted living or into a nursing home,” according to the declaration.

The father questioned Doe about the arrangement—specifically, why a trust fund was necessary, the declaration goes on.

“As a retired police chief in my 70s, I did not see the need for a trust fund at my age,” it states. “I also asked him about taxes, and what to do if we needed some money to help fix up the house in the meantime. He became upset and told me to contact his accountant.”

Doe’s father says in the declaration that he is aware his son “has stated that [Smith]’s speaking with me and my wife ruined the relationship between me and my son. That is not true.”

“It was my son who insisted that neither I nor my wife have any communications or contact with [Smith],” the declaration contends. “[Smith] is the mother of our grandchild and we have had a good relationship with her over the years. I thought she was a good mother and we did not want to turn our back on her as he insisted.”

A snippet from a declaration submitted in court by Mega Millions winner John Doe’s father.
U.S. District Court for the District of Maine

That’s when Doe’s father told him he didn’t recognize the person he had become, eliciting a barrage of slurs and epithets from Doe, after which Doe cut off the relationship, according to the declaration.

For her part, Smith claims in her own court declaration that Doe’s new “security team” has followed her and her daughter in unmarked cars between home, school, and work, that they have parked outside her home and taken down the license plate numbers of her visitors, and that they have been monitoring her electronic devices.

“I often hear a clicking noise when I am on calls, including on calls with my attorneys, and I have had a number of unexplained dropped calls,” Smith’s declaration states. “This has been happening for months.”

There are several more allegations flying back and forth between Smith and Doe, which are included in the May 10 tranche of court filings.

For one, Smith claims Doe “kidnapped” their daughter and took her out of state for several weeks; Doe claims he has joint custody of the daughter, and that Smith agreed he could take the girl on vacation, only claiming kidnapping after Doe refused to pay for Smith and her new boyfriend to take a “dream vacation” to Disney World. (A police report Doe’s lawyers filed as an exhibit in court says “no crime” had been committed.)

Doe, according to Smith, is exacting revenge on her for refusing his request to get back together following their breakup. She has filed previous motions in court seeking to de-anonymize her and Doe’s identities, which Doe has been fighting tooth and nail.

Lotteries Are a Sucker’s Bet and a Gift to the Ultra-Rich

Doe “may be embarrassed—and should be embarrassed—that the public will learn that his own father effectively has called him a liar,” her lawyers write in their opposition to Doe’s motion for sanctions.

They say he filed the lawsuit to begin with “because he didn’t want his own family to know that he won the lottery [and] that he was motivated to punish the mother of his child after she rejected him notwithstanding his billion-dollar lottery winnings,” lambasting him for trying to “buy custody of his daughter.” Doe is now, according to Smith’s attorneys, using his wealth “to try to overwhelm” Smith with endless, expensive litigation in an effort to “extort concessions” in their apparently ongoing custody dispute.

“While we understand why Plaintiff would want to hide these facts from the public,” the opposition motion argues, “the public is entitled to know why Plaintiff’s complaint is baseless and was filed for an improper purpose.”

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