Sorry, Ma

2 minute read
Tamala M. Edwards

For more than a decade Phyllis Klingebiel and her son Michael shared a monthly ritual. Each would chip in $20, and Michael would spend it on “Pick 6” lottery tickets in their home state of New Jersey. Late on Oct. 2, Phyllis says, Michael woke his parents with dreamlike news: “Mom, we won!”

The winning ticket was worth $2.17 million, which Phyllis expected to be split evenly. But the next day, when Michael, 38, and his wife Jillanne went to claim the purse, there was no mention of Phyllis. That night Michael told his parents that he had bought the winning stub separately from their $40 monthly pool. Sorry, Ma. Phyllis, a sixtyish retiree, then decided to remind her son of what happens when you don’t play well with others: she’s suing him, claiming breach of an oral contract.

Phyllis tried to keep the matter quiet and even delayed serving Michael with the legal complaint so that it wouldn’t ruin his Christmas. But the Newark Star-Ledger ran big with the anti-Oedipal tale last week. Talk-radio hosts and their audiences trashed Michael so relentlessly that a moist-eyed Phyllis called a press conference, at once begging the media to back off her boy and declaring she had no plans to back off the lawsuit. Explains her lawyer, Gary Blaustein: “Your mother loves you even if you are a murderer.” Michael, who works for an electronics company, declined comment.

Anthony Boscia, the liquor-store owner who sold the winning ticket and receives a $1,000 bonus from the lottery for his trouble, has absorbed the moral of this story. “I’m taking my family out for a wonderful time,” he says, “and that includes my parents.”

–By Tamala M. Edwards

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