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Waitress who was tipped lottery ticket that won $10,000,000 sparked controversy that turned into a nightmare

Waitress who was tipped lottery ticket that won $10,000,000 sparked controversy that turned into a nightmare

The server went through one hell of a journey to start actually enjoying her reward.

A waitress' life was turned upside down when she received a winning lottery ticket as a tip.

While an extra $10 million in the bank may not sound like something to ruin your life, Tonda Dickerson's life certainly wasn't changed fully for the better on the day she was unknowingly given a winning lottery ticket while serving tables at a branch of Waffle House in Alabama.

Dickerson was given the lottery ticket as a tip by a regular customer called Edward Seward back in March, 1999.

Less than a week later, the results rolled in and to the waitress' shock she discovered her ticket held the winning numbers for the staggering $10 million jackpot - worth around $18.9 million today.

She opted to receive the lottery money across a period of 30 years and wasted no time quitting her job, however, if you've worked as a server before, you'll know the debate around how tips are split can be a tricky one to navigate and with her tip being worth a whopping $10 million, Dickerson was in for a bumpy ride.

Tonda Dickerson was in her twenties when she was working at the Waffle House.
YouTube/ Crime Zone

It turns out, Seward had given four other employees lottery tickets as tips that day too and with none of the other servers having won any money in the draw, they turned around to Dickerson and demanded their fair share of her win.

And Dickerson's former colleagues weren't going down without a fight and decided to sue her - with the group having reportedly agreed to split the winnings should anyone's ticket come up lucky, Forbes states.

FindLaw's documenting of the lawsuit adds that Seward 'did not expect to share any potential lottery winnings based on the tickets he gave away, but he claimed that he was promised a new truck by the employees of the Waffle House if one of the tickets he distributed there was a winning ticket'.

Regular customer Edward Seward gave the server the lottery ticket.
YouTube/ Crime Zone

While there was 'sufficient evidence to support' Dickerson's former employees' claims they'd all 'orally agreed' to split the money should any of them win, Alabama Supreme Court resolved that this didn't hold up under Alabama Law.

The law states a 'contract founded on a gambling consideration' is void.

However, the drama had only just begun, as Seward went on to sue Dickerson herself, alleging she accepted the ticket from him by saying she would share the winnings with her colleagues and in not doing so, she'd fraudulently misrepresented herself.

The court ruled there was no evidence to support Seward's claims and the customer didn't discuss Dickerson's plans for if she held a winning ticket neither did he tell her he 'expected' to gain a share in the winnings.

Ultimately, Dickerson was allowed to keep the money.

Dickerson's life didn't just change positively after she found out she'd won the lottery.
YouTube/ Crime Zone

Alas, two years after her win and the drama still wasn't dying down anytime soon.

Press-Register reported at the time that Dickerson's ex-husband, Stacy Martin, kidnapped and 'told her that he was going to kill her'.

Dickerson managed to get away by shooting Martin in the chest and convincing him to go to a hospital for help.

You'd think Dickerson's misfortunes would end there, but she then became embroiled in a tax debate with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

On top of her income tax, the IRS demanded Dickerson cough up nearly $1 million in 'gift taxes' after she set up a business structure to hold the money, giving her family access to half the stock.

Thankfully, while agreeing Dickerson should be subject to a gift tax, the tax court agreed to discount the amount, resolving the lottery ticket had been worth less than the IRS calculated because of Dickerson being involved in the lawsuit with her former co-workers at the time.

While it's not known exactly how much Dickerson was left with, even a small portion of a $10 million win is certainly something to be happy about, although the former server certainly went through a hell of a journey to get there.

Featured Image Credit: YouTube/TheCrimeZone

Topics: Food and Drink, Lottery, Money, US News