Powerball winner Gary Baron has spoken publicly for the first time on his contested $16.7 million win, telling members of his syndicate he does not owe them a share.
Mr Baron, 49, has denied the $520 winning ticket was partly-purchased with 20 of his logistics industry colleagues, who have demanded an explanation.
In a statement, the newly-minted millionaire said the syndicate ticket won only $299, whereas the jackpot win was bought with his money alone.
Information from the lottery company would prove his claim, Mr Baron said in the statement published on A Current Affair‘s website.
“All the winnings from these tickets were put back into the syndicate’s funds for future play.”
Mr Baron, a resident of Geelong in Victoria, said he bought his ticket via a smartphone app using his favourite numbers three days before the syndicate ticket was purchased.
“All of this information has been verified by Tatts who conducted an investigation prior to releasing the funds to me.”
After winning, Mr Baron reportedly quit his job, bought a property on land outside Geelong in Victoria and told no-one about his windfall. Meanwhile, Tatts sent a bottle of champagne to his former workplace, which raised suspicion.
Members of the syndicate won a court battle on Thursday to see records from the Tatts company about the win, which Mr Baron’s lawyers told The Daily Telegraph would confirm his story.
“Why didn’t you just come and tell us that you’d won it, but not with our tickets but with your own ticket? If you could have proved it I would have just shook your hand, ” two men identified as syndicate members told A Current Affair.
“I have never cheated my workmates and I am disappointed that the matter has become so public and that my name, family and home have become so widely publicised,” Mr Baron said.
“In hindsight, I should have explained the circumstances to syndicate members at the time. I just want to get on with my life and enjoy time with my family,” he said.