Irish law does not prohibit the payment of money to holders of winning sweepstakes tickets. Nor does any statute or rule of law of Michigan prohibit the holder of a winning ticket from receiving and retaining proceeds paid voluntarily by a lottery without legal action.
The individual filed a breach of action when a ticket holder won approximately $487,000 in the Irish sweepstakes. The individual asserted that he and the ticket holder had orally agreed that the tickets they had were jointly owned and that all winnings were to be divided equally. The ticket holder refused to split the winnings. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the ticket holder. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court's summary judgment order and held that the oral agreement was illegal and violated Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 750.372 et seq.
Was the agreement illegal?
Upon review, the Supreme Court of Michigan reversed and remanded. It held that the public policy of the state did not preclude the individual from attempting to enforce his claim. The court held that: (1) retention of sweepstakes winnings voluntarily paid violated no state law and the promise to share amounts so received constituted legal consideration; and (2) no interest of the state would be furthered by non-enforcement of the individual's claim that he owned half of the legal winnings.