Money Mayhem: Finders Isn't Keepers in the Lottery

Money Mayhem: Finders Isn't Keepers in the Lottery

LearnVest always seeks to educate and inform, but every once in a while, a financial matter hits the headlines and makes us go, “Huh.” Sometimes it even provides us a lens to learn about ourselves. In that spirit, from bad money decisions to financial lessons worth millions, consider our Money Mayhem your source of financial edu-tainment.

This is the tale of two Sharons.

The first, Sharon Duncan of Arkansas, bought a lottery ticket. She scanned it at a store, was told it wasn't the winning number, and threw it away in a nearby trash can.


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The second, Sharon Jones, later came by and picked up a handful of lottery tickets from the trash (something she often did), including the one discarded by Duncan. She scanned them, and lo and behold, Duncan's ticket won her $1 million.

Sort of.

Although Jones started spending the money on gifts and a new truck, a judge says that the $1 million belongs to Duncan, who originally purchased the ticket. Jones, who doesn't get the money, has hired a lawyer to fight for it, and said lawyer is described in HuffPost Money: "The attorney argued that people shouldn't be allowed to throw items away and then say, 'ooh, I want to un-abandon it.'"


Anyway, there's some more confusion surrounding the exact time a "Do Not Take" sign was posted on the unfortunately located trash can.

Lesson: Don't discard your lottery tickets—which you haven't bought anyway, because that money went to your IRA—in one piece, ripe for the taking from passersby.

Also, losers weepers.

So tell us: Who should get the money and why?


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