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A $1.35 billion lottery winner's own father turned against him in a messy family lawsuit

Mia Jankowicz   

A $1.35 billion lottery winner's own father turned against him in a messy family lawsuit
  • The father of a $1.35 billion lottery winner has turned against him in a bitter lawsuit.
  • The winner is suing the mother of his child, saying she broke an NDA and told family members.

A lawsuit brought by a $1.35 billion lottery winner against the mother of his child has taken a new twist, with the winner's own father siding with the defendant.

Last November, the plaintiff, known only as "John Doe," filed for damages against the mother of his child, claiming that she broke a non-disclosure agreement by revealing details of his win.

Doe, a resident of Maine, hit the headlines in January 2023 after becoming one of the biggest-ever winners of a US lottery.

The win, which Doe accepted as a lump-sum payment, amounted to about $500 million after taxes.

Doe has sought to maintain his anonymity, but claims that the woman — named pseudonymously as "Sarah Smith" — told his father, leading to several other family members finding out.

Doe's lawsuit seeks $100,000 in damages for each alleged breach of the NDA.

But according to the claims of a new filing on Friday by Smith's lawyer, seen by Business Insider and first reported by The Daily Beast, it was Doe himself who told his father about the win.

On Friday, Doe's lawyers filed a motion for sanctions against Smith, saying that she has made a number of false claims about him regarding their past relationship and an ongoing custody battle.

This, it said, was an attempt to make a "straightforward breach of contract action" into a "sensationalized" story for the "court of public opinion."

In response, Smith's lawyers point out that Doe's own motion said that he'd "made the mistake" of telling his father.

This, Smith's lawyers said, "knocks the struts out from under his complaint."

Details from the new declarations outline bitter rifts between Doe and his family. They also illustrate the strains that a massive influx of money can put on family relations.

In one declaration filed on Friday, Doe's father said his son not only told him about the money, but that he promised to spend lavishly on his parents "even though I didn't ask him for anything."

Doe denies telling his dad any details beyond the fact of his having won.

According to the father, Doe promised to buy his childhood home for him, build him a garage so he could pursue his hobby of fixing up cars, and set up a $1,000,000 trust fund for him and his stepmom.

But after he questioned some of the details, Doe became angry, he said.

Doe also insisted that his father and stepmom cut off all contact with Smith, something they were unwilling to do, according to the declaration.

"I told him that 'you are not the son I knew.' He got angry, calling me a 'dictator' and an 'asshole,''" the father said. "I have not heard from my son since, and he has not done any of the things he promised."

Smith's lawyers accused Doe of pursuing her through a baseless, costly, and intimidatory court battle because she would not agree to get back together with him.

Meanwhile, Doe says Smith had been an abusive partner and that she was now using baseless allegations about him to pressure him to withdraw the lawsuit.

The filings also point to a flurry of accusations between Smith and Doe over custody of their daughter.

Smith's lawyers wrote that she believes the lawsuit was brought against her "to use Plaintiff's limitless resources to bully and intimidate her to make concessions in the ongoing family matter concerning their daughter."

Both of the parties' lawyers declined to comment on the record when approached by Business Insider.

It's not the first time that families have been shattered by a massive lottery win.

In 2012, the British winner of more than $180 million severed ties with her family after they became, in her words, "demanding and greedy."

And in 2018, an Australian lottery winner started legal proceedings against his daughter, saying she had bullied him into sharing the winnings.

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