After threats, arrests and a lawsuit, a judge ruled that the waiter and his boss are entitled to GBP 500,000 each.
Everyone dreams of winning the lottery, but if you had to split your prize, your boss would probably be the last person you’d think of. Well Fatih Ozcan was ordered by a judge to hand over half of his GBP 1 million to his boss Hayati Kucukkoylu.
Fatih Ozcan used to wait tables at a Turkish restaurant in York. But his life took a different turn when he bought a EuroMillions lottery ticket and won. What could have been a fantastic experience soon turned into a nightmare, with threats, accusations, arrests and a lawsuit, after his boss Hayati Kucukkoylu tried to claim the prize all for himself.
I have a dream…
Judge Mark Gosnell said it all started on January 29, 2012, when Fatih Ozcan had a dream which he believed to be a sign of good luck.
“He dreamt that he was holding a large bundle of cash and, standing in front of him, was his boss. Mr Ozcan is a strong believer in the power of dreams and interpreted this to mean that he and Mr Kucukkoylu would win the lottery,” he explained.
The EuroMillions lottery game is Europe’s biggest rolling jackpot. All players have to do is pick five numbers from 1 to 50 and two Lucky Stars from 1 to 11. The game is run by National Lottery operator Camelot.
Convinced that his dream would come true and that his boss will win, the waiter went to work next day and started to pester the owner of the restaurant to try his luck at the lottery. According to local gambling news, he insisted for hours before the man finally gave up and agreed to enter the draw.
He sent his employee to a nearby supermarket to buy a ticket and it miraculously turned out to be a winner. The prize was beyond their wildest dreams no less than GBP 1 million.
Two winners, one prize
Hayati Kucukkoylu was more preoccupied with his business than gambling. He didn’t care much for his employee’s suggestions to play the lottery. That is until he heard the great news that the ticket Fatih Ozcan had bought using the money from his restaurant was worth GBP 1 million.
The 47-year-old restaurant owner was so thrilled to hear he had won that he started celebrating. Of course, as he saw it, the prize was all his. After all, the ticket was bought with his money. In fact, he insisted that he was the only person entitled to it, as he had chosen the numbers alone.
But that’s not what the waiter thought. The employee immediately phoned Camelot, the company authorized under British gambling laws to run the National Lottery. He falsely accused his boss of stealing the ticket from his pocket and three days later, the police arrested Kucukkoylu and held him in custody for around nine hours.
Finally, when the restaurant owner was let go, he discovered that his former employee had fled from the city.
Judge splits prize
Eventually, the waiter confessed that he had lied about his boss stealing the ticket. But he also told the police and Camelot that his boss had threatened him and that he was “fearful for his safety”.
The scandal was followed by a seven-day High Court hearing in London, during which the two men exchanged a series of angry texts. After watching the surveillance tape from the restaurant, to see how the winning slips were filled in, the judge ruled that each of them is entitled to half of the money.
The CCTV footage proved that both men contributed by suggesting part of the winning numbers. Furthermore, it appeared that they each paid half of the GBP 9 stake, so the money did not come entirely from the restaurant owner’s pocket.
The judge said the waiter’s story was “inherently more plausible” and explained: “I cannot see why he would be so determined to make his employer play if he was not directly to benefit.”
After more than two and a half years, each of them got half the total amount. And if you come to think of it, GBP 500,000 isn’t half bad.