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Rich bankers claim lottery winnings - for client?

November 29, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Lottery officials had been searching for nearly a month for the winner or winners of the largest ever jackpot in Connecticut history: $254 million. They even put up billboards. Then three wealthy investment bankers came forward Monday afternoon.

A British tabloid says the bankers may be trying to protect the identity of the real winner, a very rich client who wants to remain anonymous.

Three wealthy investment bankers walked into a press conference Monday and announced they've won the lottery. They dutifully held their $254-millon Powerball check for the cameras.

You almost want it to be a joke: the rich get richer is not a heartwarming headline in the middle of a recession. The winners, from Connecticut, didn't seem to want to talk about it.

But maybe it really was a joke.

Overnight, Britain's Daily Mail ran a story quoting Tom Gladstone, a friend of one of the three bankers, saying they actually didn't win.

He said it was a ruse and the real winner is one of the trio's wealthy clients, who wants to remain anonymous.

Gladstone told ABC News one of the bankers admitted claiming the ticket for a client saying, "The plan was to keep all this private. You've seen people pry into other people's lives. They want to protect their client."

At that press conference, the bankers brought along a fourth person to speak for them and he said the three were planning to give their winnings to charity.

"Charities are definitely probably number one on their priority list," said spokesman Jason Keerland.

But the spokesman wasn't willing to talk about details.

"I'm not going to get into the timeline. I don't want to get into their personal lives at all," said Keerland.

The friend, Tom Gladstone, told ABC News, "These are smart guys. They want to turn the hundred million into three- or four-hundred million."

One of the bankers said he bought the winning ticket for a dollar at a gas station.

The bankers formed a trust to accept the winnings and chose to take it in a lump sum after taxes of about $104 million.

In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, the group said the trust will distribute $1 million in the next 10 days to organizations that help veterans.