My fiancé calls my female best friend “Cut the Check.” Months ago we were at a lounge discussing the breakup of Dwyane Wade and his now ex-wife, who was accusing him of everything from giving her herpes to leaving her homeless.
My bestie pointed out that not all celebrities have this problem—only the ones who didn’t have the sense to offer a “parting gift” in the form of a hefty check that kept the exes comfy and also quiet.
“D-Wade could solve this problem if he just cut the check,” she said. And just like that, a nickname was born.
I thought of that story over the weekend when I was reading about the saga of a New Jersey man who made headlines earlier this year when he hit the jackpot for $338 million.
As expected, he was exuberant at a press conference where he accepted the money. “It has to change,” Pedro Quezada said when asked by a reporter if his life would be different. “Imagine … so much money. But it will not change my heart.”
Of the woman then identified as his wife, Ines Sanchez, he added, she could have “whatever she wants.”
Since his win, in which he received an after-tax payout of $153 million, Quezada has been dogged with a classic case of what Notorious B.I.G. once called “Mo Money Mo Problems.”
It turns out that Sanchez is not his wife but his girlfriend of 10 years. Since the money came, the pair, who share a child and a business partnership, have parted ways. And according to headlines over the weekend, Sanchez is now suing her ex for a share of the money she says they won. Her lawyer maintains that the ticket was bought with the couple’s shared proceeds from the store they owned together, and that entitles Sanchez to a cut of the money.
His lawyer, unsurprisingly, maintains that the ex-girlfriend is entitled to nothing, since she was not his wife. Ouch.
My deepest sympathies go to Sanchez. She “held down” Quezada by standing by him for 10 years, having a child with him and investing, at the very least, time and energy in the business they operated together. But she sold herself short by acting like a wife, when, in fact, she was not one.
Frankly, she made “a permanent investment in a temporary man,” as one of my Facebook friends put it. And that is making her one of those scared-straight examples that women will use to argue why marriage is more than a piece of paper. The fact is, if she were a wife, she’d be getting something.
“‘Holding him down’? What kind of legal status is that?” asked Ebony Murphy-Root on my Facebook page. “A girlfriend is not a wife, women. A man you’re not married to doesn’t owe you a dime of any money that comes his way. Reproduce wisely.”
Despite the wifelike investments she made in the relationship, Sanchez isn’t a wife. She also has the misfortune of living in a state that does not recognize common-law marriages. I totally get why she would want some of the earnings—I get why she feels entitled to them after the time served in the relationship. But legally? It’s unclear what, if anything, she’s entitled to. The judge overseeing the dispute has declined to dismiss her case but also refused to freeze her ex-boyfriend’s quickly dwindling assets.
According to his attorney, a large chunk of Quezada’s winnings are already spent. He claimed to New York’s Daily News that $57 million has been sent to his native Dominican Republic, $5 million was given away, $300,000 was spent on a house and $20 million can’t be located.
Quezada may not be legally obligated to split the winnings with Sanchez, but I find it pretty grimy that he hasn’t offered anything to the mother of his child and a woman who stayed by him for a decade before the relationship dissolved. By no means do I think she should get the same half of the earnings that Vanessa Bryant was going to walk away with when she filed for divorce from Kobe Bryant (before they reconciled), but $3 million to $5 million would be a drop in the bucket for Quezada, and probably enough to keep his girlfriend pacified instead of going after him in court.
“Sad to say it, but just because you hold someone down doesn’t mean they owe you anything,” wrote a male commenter on Facebook who identifies as “the Real Deal”: “You’re grown. You did what you wanted to. Out of respect, should they reciprocate? Yes, but that’s also a personal choice; they are not obligated to.”
A judge will decide the final outcome of the case in due time. But in the meantime, do you think Sanchez should get a cut?