NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Three money managers awarded a $254 million Powerball jackpot said Tuesday there's no fourth participant despite a claim they're covering for a winner who wants to stay anonymous.
Greg Skidmore, Brandon Lacoff and Tim Davidson, who work at an asset management firm in Greenwich, one of the most affluent towns in America, came forward as the lottery winners Monday. Their lawyer said they formed a trust to manage the money after Davidson bought the $1 winning ticket at a Stamford gas station.
The three men work at Belpointe, which provides investment advice, much of it to wealthy people, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company manages $82 million, according to the SEC.
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 on 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 is, Gladstone said, "They're protecting him. That's the whole purpose of putting this in this trust."
He said the real winner, a client of the men's firm, wants anonymity because people "get harassed and hounded when they win the lottery."
His claim was first reported by the Daily Mail newspaper of Britain.
A statement from the men's Putnam Avenue Family Trust said "there has been much speculation and quite a bit of misinformation over the last 24 hours." It said the trust was established to manage the winnings to help those who can benefit from the money.
"And to be clear, there are a total of three trustees and there is no anonymous fourth participant," the statement said.
(Read the full statement at the bottom of this story)
The trust promised to distribute $1 million in the next 10 days to organizations in the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut area that help military veterans.
"These men and women have given enormously, and in many cases, have sacrificed, if not their lives then their health and well being. There is a solemn responsibility to reach out and help them, especially now, during this holiday season," the men said in a statement.
"The three trustees consider this the first stop on what we see as a journey of philanthropy in the months and years to come," the statement said. "We recognize that we have been literally blessed with a winning hand when it came to playing a simple game of chance. We also recognize that, as a result, we have a moral obligation to ensure these dollars are put to their best possible use in the shortest possible time to help the broadest number of people in need."
Gladstone said the anonymous winner is the beneficiary of the trust.
But a trust spokesman, Gary Lewi, insisted there is no secret lottery winner.
"I am afraid Mr. Gladstone is mistaken," he said.
The men's attorney, Jason Kurland, did not return repeated telephone calls, an email and Facebook messages Tuesday. Messages also were left with the men.
Connecticut Lottery Corporation president Anne Noble 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.
Lottery winners in Connecticut are generally determined by who is holding the ticket, which is why authorities urge winners to sign the backs of their tickets. Winners are designated as public information under Connecticut's freedom of information laws.
Lottery officials 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," Kurland said. "These numbers are huge. This is going to benefit many people."
The jackpot was the largest 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 declined to describe their relationships with one another, how they came to buy 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.
Below is the statement in full:
"We recognize that we have been literally blessed with a winning hand when it came to playing a simple game of chance. We also recognize that, as a result, we have a moral obligation to ensure these dollars are put to their best possible use in the shortest possible time to help the broadest number of people in need.
While there has been much speculation and quite a bit of misinformation over the last 24 hours, this Trust, with its three trustees , has been established to manage the winnings in the most practical and expedient way possible so that we can achieve our strategic goal of helping those who can best benefit from these funds. And to be clear, there are a total of three trustees and there is no anonymous fourth participant.
We are leveraging our professional experience and our collective success in money management to ensure these dollars go far further than their face value. If we are successful, we believe the creation of this Trust, and its legacy, will serve as a national model for others who have been equally fortunate in winning sweepstakes and now seek to use those dollars to touch the lives of others.
As we seek to set priorities as to how these winnings will be allocated we believe there are few issues more important than how we care for our veterans and those returning home from deployment in defense of our nation. These men and women have given enormously, and in many cases, have sacrificed, if not their lives then their health and well being. There is a solemn responsibility to reach out and help them, especially now, during this holiday season.
Accordingly, within the next ten days the Trust will be distributing one million dollars to selected organizations within the tri-state area whose mission is to aid those veterans who need assistance. The three Trustees consider this the first stop on what we see as a journey of philanthropy in the months and years to come."