An Australian lottery winner, dubbed the “Lotto Rat” by the tabloids, will share his $16.6 million windfall with his co-workers, or at least what’s left of it.
Gary Baron, 50, a truck driver from Victoria, was part of an office lottery syndicate that hit it big in 2014, except he decided not to tell any of his co-workers at the company about it.
Instead, he quit his job, bought a luxury home and a $200,000 convertible BMW M4.
His colleagues only learned about the deception when lottery company, Tatts, sent him a congratulatory bottle of champagne to toast his winnings.
Unfortunately for Baron, they used the very courier company he used to work for, and the bottle was delivered by a member of the syndicate.
What Did You Do, Win the Lottery?
Previously, syndicate members, who thought they were his friends, had questioned Baron playfully about his sudden extravagant purchases.
“I said ‘you haven’t pulled off the Powerball and haven’t told us or anything have you?’ and he just goes “nah, nah” and he just laughed and walked away,’ one told Australian news program A Current Affair.
“Winning Tatts lotto is like … everybody dreams of it, and it only happened to the lucky few once in a while. This was our shot, and it’s gone. He took it away from us,’ his former colleague said.
The syndicate, which comprised 14 other workers at the Toll courier company’s North Geelong depot, south of Melbourne, sued Baron.
According to court documents, Baron was in charge of collecting funds to buy tickets each week on behalf of the group. Each member contributed $20 to the pool. Baron claimed, however, that he bought the winning ticket separately.
Back in Court
A day after the draw, in October 2014, Baron was interviewed anonymously by Tatts, declaring, somewhat ironically, “I’m still in disbelief… I don’t need that amount of money, it’s too much for me.” He then said he would share the money with his family.
But now, it looks like he’s going to have to share it with everyone else too. Having settled out of court with some members of the syndicate in April, a civil trial on Wednesday brought by others not included in the original litigation, ended as soon as it had begun.
Outside the Victorian Supreme Court, Justice Kim Hargrave said the group had advised the court the case had been resolved. The amount of the settlement is unknown.
The group has been holding out for $1 million, but A Current Affair calculated that, considering how much is likely to be left, they would be lucky to get a quarter of that sum.