Waitress tipped with £7million lottery ticket kidnapped and chased for money
Tonda Dickerson won the £7million jackpot after a customer at the Waffle House restaurant where she worked handed the ticket to her as a tip, sparking a trail of misfortune - including a kidnap
Tonda Dickerson was handed the multi-million-pound ticket as a tip while waiting tables at a Waffle House restaurant in Grand Bay, Alabama.But ever since she won the prize in 1999 she has spent huge chunks of it on lawsuits to protect her cash.She also became the victim of crime when her armed ex-husband kidnapped her and held her against her will, The Sun reports.
When diner Edward Seward had polished off his cheap meal on March 7, 1999, Tonda was in her late 20s and recently divorced.Edward - likely thinking it a cheaper option than forking out a few dollars - handed Tonda a lotto ticket for a draw in Florida as a tip.
Days later her numbers came in and she realised her stroke of luck had lead to her becoming a multi-millionaire.The £7.3million ($10million) she won would be around £11.94million ($16.4million) in today's money, the Daily Star reports. Rather than the lump sum, Tonda decided to take a £275k payment each year for 30 years. headtopics.com
She then quit Waffle House and started to plan a new life with her small fortune.But her colleagues had other ideas and accused her of breaking a verbal contract that she would split any of the winnings with them.Within a month of securing the life-changing sum she was forking out expensive legal costs to protect her winnings.
Witnesses at the restaurant said they heard Tonda making the promise to her co-workers.In less than one hour the court had ruled against her, local news site Al.com reported.The court offered her to keep $3million, which she rejected. Instead, she began funnelling her winnings into a family business.
But another stroke of luck came when the Alabama Supreme Court overturned her previous conviction on the basis of her promise being a form of illegal gambling.Then came another lawsuit when Mr Seward, who gave her the ticket, claimed she swore he could have a new truck if she won.
Her lawyers again argued Tonda's offer was not legally binding and should be viewed as a "throwaway" comment.Shortly after the ruling, Tonda's ex-husband Stacy Martin armed himself with a .22 calibre handgun and kidnapped the former waitress. headtopics.com
He drove her to a run-down boat jetty in Jackson County, Alabama, where he held her against her will.Stacy prevented her from answering her phone twice, before giving in on the third call.Tonda then grabbed his gun and shot him through the chest.Stacy was admitted to hospital with a gunshot wound but no-one faced criminal consequences after the incident, according to AL.com.
Some time later Tonda was chased to pay $1million in "gift taxes" paired with a sizeable income tax bill.She was spared paying a far larger bill when a court ruled in 2012 she had to pay just a percentage of the "gift portion" - amounting to $1,119,347.90, Forbes reported
Tonda is said to be still working after passing the majority of her winnings on to her family.Her social media pages say she currently works as a poker dealer at the Golden Nugget casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. Read More Read more: Daily Mirror »
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