POSTED: 11:42 a.m. HST, Nov 29, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 12:04 p.m. HST, Nov 29, 2011
NEW HAVEN, Conn. >> Three money managers from wealthy Greenwich, Conn., who claimed a $254 million lottery jackpot are keeping a stiff upper lip despite a claim they're covering for the real winner, who wants to stay anonymous.
In notoriously private Greenwich, which fought unsuccessfully to prevent out-of-towners from using its beaches, even a jackpot that would spark jubilation elsewhere is a matter of discretion.
On Monday, Greg Skidmore, Brandon Lacoff and Tim Davidson came forward as the winners of the $254.2 million Powerball jackpot. A lawyer for the men said they formed a trust to manage the money after Davidson bought the $1 winning ticket at a Stamford gas station.
The men sat stoically and drank bottled water as their lawyer did the talking.
"And it feels good," Skidmore said at the end.
But Thomas Gladstone, who identified himself as the landlord for the men's company, said he was surprised to learn Lacoff was among the winners because he made no mention of it when he saw him Friday. So Gladstone called Lacoff Monday night.
"He said, 'No, I didn't win the lottery. We're representing the guy who did,'" Gladstone said. "He said he represents the guy who's staying anonymous."
Asked who the real winner was, Gladstone said, "They're protecting him. That's the whole purpose of putting this in this trust."
"The person that won it wants anonymity," Gladstone said. "People get harassed and hounded when they win the lottery."
Gladstone said the person who wants anonymity is a client of the firm. Gladstone's claim was first reported by the Daily Mail newspaper of Britain.
The men's attorney, Jason Kurland, did not return repeated telephone calls, an email and Facebook message Tuesday. Messages also were left with the men.
Anne Noble, president of the CEO of Connecticut Lottery Corporation, said she could not confirm or deny rumors swirling around the prize. She said officials are processing the payout for the winners who came forward Monday.
"The Connecticut lottery followed its policies and procedures, and we are obliged to pay the bearer of the instrument," she said.
Lottery winners in Connecticut are generally determined by who is holding the ticket, which is why authorities urge winners to sign the back of their tickets. Winners are designated as public information under the Connecticut's freedom of information laws.
Lottery officials referred calls to Kurland. They said they processed the jackpot claim "in accordance with applicable rules and integrity standards."
"It is not uncommon for Powerball winners to be identified as individuals, trusts, partnerships or other legal entities," the lottery said in a statement.
Kurland said Monday that the men contacted him immediately after the Nov. 2 drawing and came forward after making plans for the money. He said that the trust will take the after-tax lump sum of $103,586,824.51 cash and that a significant amount will go to charity.
"Obviously, everybody is extremely excited," said Jason Kurland, the group's attorney. "These numbers are huge. This is going to benefit many people."
The jackpot was the largest ever won in Connecticut and the 12th biggest in Powerball history. The largest previous lottery jackpot in Connecticut was $59.5 million in June 2005.
The three men work at Belpointe, an asset management firm in Greenwich that provides investment advice, much of it to wealthy individuals, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company manages $82 million, according to the SEC.
The men declined to describe their relationship with one another, how they came to purchase a $1 ticket together or what they would do with the money, except to say that Connecticut charities would benefit from the windfall.
Gladstone defended the move.
"I think it's the first time somebody gave it careful thought and did a smart thing," he said.
Associated Press writer Michael Melia contributed to this report.