I have an issue I am hoping to get some outside perspective on. I competed in a run this past October and received prize money for finishing in the top three. Below is a link to the races website with the prize money break down.
I received the stated amount and went on my way unit today. This morning was contacted by the race director saying that the money given was meant for the male and female athlete and I must pay them back half of my winnings or I will be seeing them in court.
The race is put on by an organization that does good work but the handling of this situation is leaving a bad taste in my mouth. For a charity they are being extremely aggressive and threatening with calls, emails, and texts.
They had us pose with oversized checks with the amount written on them and mail out a real check weeks later with the "correct" amount. If this really was a mistake they had so many opportunities to catch it before now. The money has been spent and even though it is not a large amount it is still more than I can comfortably give up.
So I come to you Letsrun with the question what are the legal ramifications of not paying the money back? Can I really be brought to court? How would you proceed if you were in my shoes?
If they sent you check, they can do nothing. Do not pay them any money
There's no way I would give that money back. They are in the wrong. They should have realized that it was the wrong amount before writing the check. Looking at the link you posted, they offered a lot of money for the winners of each event. That is a lot to give back because they messed up.
If I understand what you're saying, they are now telling you that the prize for each place is half of the stated amount because, for example, the 1st place man in the 10 mile splits the $1800 1st prize with the the 1st place woman in the 10 mile so they each get $900.
I don't think that is what is advertised. For the 10 mile it says this:
10 Mile total prize money: Overall Male & Female
1ST PLACE â€“ $1800
2ND PLACE â€“ $1000
3RD PLACE â€“ $700
To me, that means the 1st place man gets $1800 and the 1st place woman gets $1800, not that they split a single 1st place prize. I've never heard of such a thing.
As you say, the race's current interpretation of how the prize money works is also contrary to their conduct in giving you a check for the full amount of prize money.
To answer your question, sure they can sue you. Anyone can sue anyone for anything. The question is whether they have a good case and can win. From what I can tell, they have a lousy case.
If I were you, I would preserve documentation of everything (i.e., print out the website and prize money listings, try to find photos of the oversized checks, get or keep a copy of the check you got, print out all texts, emails, save voicemails, etc.). I would then tell them they are wrong and trying to get out of awarding the prize that you won fair and square according to their rules, and that you have no intention of paying the money back. Then ignore them unless they sue you.
If they sue you, you respond and present your side. Given the amount of money involved, it's probably a small claims case. I like your odds a lot better than theirs.
Did they give ALL of the winners twice as much as they intended on giving, or just you?
I agree 100% that you should not give anything back to them. The above scenario is the only way I can see someone ruling in their favor, and I highly doubt even that.
They advertise $15,000 in prize money. If you add all the advertised prizes together with the idea that the $1800 is being split between male and female winners, you get $14,250. So it does seem like they gave out twice as much as they meant to. They probably gave out $24,500 instead of $15,000. No wonder they want their money back!
Oh, I see now. If you add them all up, you do get 15k if each place is awarded half to the male and half to the female. It is an odd way to do it, but it is not really overtly deceptive. It is just poorly written. I can see how a volunteer managing the prize money could get confused if they have little experience doing races.
I will not even pretend to know how this would play out in court in California. That is the most screwed up jurisdiction in the US, second only to Louisiana.
I would just pay it back. If you don't have it, pay what you can now and some more later until you are even. That is still very stout prize money for a fairly local event.
here's the thing: since we don't know who you are, we'll assume that you are the winner, for argument's sake. thus, the most they (the race) will recover is $900, right?
Lawyer=$175-300/hr. Just drafting a lawsuit will be at least 4-5hrs of billable time. So that's a minimum of $700 (probably more) just to draft the suit. Now you have to pay court fees to file the lawsuit, pay to have the lawsuit served to you, the athlete, and likely pay the attorney a retainer. Right there they are looking at $2000 minimum to file a lawsuit. Even in small claims court, they would still be looking at significant enough fees that it's really not worth their time.
You definitely need to ignore them and just avoid that race in the future. If this is true, doesn't speak well of the surfing madonna race, and I find that quite sad that a race, which supposedly cares enough about elite athletes to offer prize money, would stoop to this sort of behavior.
Hey race director, I know you (and/or your friends) lurk here, care to chime in?
Maculate Prizes wrote:
.......or I will be seeing them in court.
They are saying that the word â€œtotalâ€ means that the top male and top female will split the money for first and so on. The point they keep bring up is they had an advertised purse of $15,000 and the only way that works out is if the prize money is split 50/50 between male and female.
All the prize winners received twice as much as they intended.
I don't understand why everyone is saying to keep the money. People make mistakes and you don't have to be a jerk about that. Especially if you won way more than the cost of entry. And especially if they are a charity.
If you're a decent person, then tell them that is too much to pay back all at once but you'd be willing to gradually pay them back.
Looked back to check my math. The only way to get to $15,000 is if you give out 6 $250 prizes to the masters. That further ads to the confusion of their page as those prizes are not meant to be split between male and female like the ones above. Otherwise you get the $14,250 i posted above.
not certain I understand.
Did you get $1800 and the RD says that you should have received $900 ?
If so, then the total prize money payout would be $11,200 if I added correctly.
If the male winner gets $1800 and the women's winner also gets $1800 then the total payout is $20,500, again if I added correctly.
The prize money page states that $15,000 is going to be the total payout.
conclusion: nothing adds up here.
The RD probably wanted the men's winner and the women's winner to each receive $900 but he most likely had somebody else set up the web page and it was posted incorrectly.
bottom line: the RD was lazy here and should have done it himself. Or should have been at the computer while the web page was being created if he didn't know how to set up a web page.
full disclosure: I would not know how to set up a web page either.
Bullshnikes Roy, no way in hell should he/she pay it back. Show me ONE race in the united states that lists their prize money in this format, just one....(crickets). I pay very close attention to elite racing and I've never, ever, seen a prize breakdown where they INTENTIONALLY posted the prize money in such a deceptive manner. absolutely no reason to post the breakdown like that, unless you wanted to make the purse look bigger than it is
Precious Roy wrote:
I would just pay it back.
It's not your job to have to figure out the math on what they were too stupid to simply communicate. Then they compounded the error by showing with their payment that they started out with a similar understanding to yours. Nobody is going to sue you for that amount, just ignore them. The race promoter will have to pay for his mistake out of his earnings.
Anyone amazed the 40-54 age group $250 (or $125 still a lot) prize was won by a time of 40:35!!!
Wow, talk about easy money.
In Seattle or Portland, the top master would have been 32:00 minutes for sure. No way it would go over 40:00 minutes.
I agree. They need to figure out how to word things better when advertising this race. I would not pay the money back and call them on their bluff for saying they will sue you.
$900 in California isn't much.
Your defense in court: had you known the payout would be a measly $900 you would not have wasted your valuable time attending this race.
Therefore you say to the judge that you want to file a countersuit for deceptive advertising.
got to remember that the 10k was on sand.
not certain how loosely packed it was.
I have a feeling that the footing wasn't that great for at least part of the race.
Jose F. wrote:
$900 in California isn't much.
It's the same as it is anywhere else