INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Seven hairstylists who are fighting for a share of a $9.5 million lottery prize bought by a co-worker at an Indianapolis salon testified Wednesday that they had all agreed to share any winnings from tickets purchased at the same time as those for an office pool.
Marion County Judge Heather Welch said she will decide by Friday whether to freeze the jackpot until the dispute over the ticket is settled.
Hairstylist Christina Shaw has maintained that the winning ticket in the Feb. 16 Hoosier Lotto drawing was one she bought for herself, not one of the tickets she purchased for the group. But the other hairstylists testified that Shaw bought the ticket at the same time and place she bought those for the pool — something they said they had all agreed not to do.
Lucy Lewis Johnston, who owns Lou's Creative Styles, said buying a personal ticket with pool tickets would make it impossible "to determine which was whose ticket."
Hairstylist Linda Sue Stewart said that's why they had all agreed that any such tickets "were all considered part of the pool."
A parade of current and former salon employees all testified to the agreement and said all of the women who played the lottery — including Shaw — knew the rules.
Shaw did not attend the hearing, and her attorney didn't take part. Wednesday's hearing dealt solely with whether the $9.5 million payout should be frozen until the court can determine to whom the winning ticket actually belongs. Welch issued a temporary restraining order last week barring the Hoosier Lottery Commission from awarding the prize money to Shaw for 10 days.
The lottery commission isn't opposing the proposed injunction.
Bryan Corbin, a spokesman for the Indiana Attorney General's Office, which represents the commission, said the agency "takes no position on the preliminary injunction or on the merits of the dispute between the stylists. The commission's only interest is in paying the proper claimant. The ticket-ownership decision is solely up to the court to determine, not the commission, which does not have the authority to decide ownership."
A lottery spokesman didn't immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press seeking comment.
The women filed into the elevator outside the courtroom without talking to reporters.
Attorney Scott Montross, who represents the hairstylists fighting for a share of the prize, told reporters after the hourlong hearing that his clients were more hurt than angry.
"They're disappointed that it came to this," Montross said. "They're much more disappointed than they are angry."