When their boss gave them scratch-off tickets as a holiday bonus, Leslie Underwood said she and Mandy Vanhouten agreed to split any of the winnings between them equally.
But that all changed to the tune of $300,000, according to a lawsuit filed by Underwood.
The lawsuit alleges that both women scratched off the tickets on Dec. 22, and found one was worth $300,000. Yet instead of splitting the big win, the lawsuit says Vanhouten took the ticket home that weekend and cashed it in on Dec. 27 without telling Underwood.
Vanhouten has “skipped town” and hasn’t been back to work since, according to the lawsuit.
Now Underwood is suing, asking for a judge to freeze the money earned from the lottery prize until ownership of the winnings can be established.
"We talked about how life changing it would be and what we were going to do with this money," Underwood told ArkansasMatter, adding that she wanted to use the money to take her kids on a vacation. “She decided to take it and run.”
But Vanhouten has a different story — after redeeming the scratch-off, the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery said that she got the ticket at a local liquor store.
She added that she will use the money “to make her life easier.”
Since then, Vanhouten has gone missing — she hasn’t answered phone calls or her door at home, Inside Edition reported, and even family members aren’t sure where she is.
Scott Hardin, a spokesman for the Lottery, told ArkansasMatter that Vanhouten is considered the rightful owner of the ticket because she is the one who showed up to redeem it and Underwood’s signature was not on the scratch-off.
But many people on the Lottery’s Facebook post celebrating Vanhouten’s win didn’t seem too happy for her.
“I hope she splits the money or that there is a real case against her,” one person wrote. “Shame on the Arkansas lottery for this. It was bought by their boss....if anything this is his and she had no right to sign anything without everyone being present.”
“Stealing the prize money from your co-worker is WRONG,” another added. “Mandy’s reputation is ruined. Looks like this story has already gone viral. Hope she gets what she deserves.”
While others are waiting to hear both sides of the story.
“Everyone is nailing this girl for what amounts to one person’s word,” a third person wrote. “Who knows if what the other woman is saying is true? Hell I could claim anyone said they would split with me if that were the case. I say wait to see if it goes to court and what the outcome is.”