NY Daily NewsHasbro cheated Long Island-based Scrabble promoter out of bonuses: lawsuit
John D. Williams — who got the nickname ‘Mr. Scrabble’ from starting championships, writing a book called 'Everything Scrabble' and even creating an ESPN show based on the game — says Hasbro consistently ignored the bonus provision in his contract. He’s suing for $1 million.
BY Barbara Ross
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Published: Tuesday, April 1, 2014, 2:41 PM
A Long Island man who helped put Scrabble into millions of homes and schools is suing Hasbro, the game’s manufacturer, for $1 million, alleging the firm cheated him out of bonuses for eight years.
John D. Williams — who got the nickname “Mr. Scrabble” from starting Scrabble championships, writing a book called “Everything Scrabble” and even creating an ESPN show based on the game — says in court papers that Hasbro consistently ignored the bonus provision in his contract from 2005 to 2013.
Williams, who has worked to promote Scrabble for more than two decades, was supposed to get $10,000 for each 1% increase in sales, according to documents filed in Manhattan Supreme Court.
The court papers say that since Williams got involved promoting the game in 1982, Hasbro has sold 150 million sets worldwide and created many offshoot games, like Scrabble Boggle, Scrabble Catch Phrase, Scrabble Slam, Scrabble Apple and Scrabble Scattergories.
Williams, who lives in Greenport, L.I., also created and ran the National Scrabble Association for decades; Hasbro paid him partly with dues that people paid to join the group and with tournament fees.
The plaintiff and Hasbro parted ways last summer, when the manufacturer decided to save money and have its own staff run the association, which had organized national, world and school contests.
Williams said in an interview that since last summer, a private group of Scrabble players formed the North American Scrabble Players Association, which now runs contests.
"I love Scrabble. It's fascinating. I play Scrabble every day — with friends, with artificial intelligence and with a dozen people around the world," Williams said.
"Once you learn the correct way, it becomes a completely different game. It's completely different every single time and it's very creative because you're making order out of chaos," he said.
"You have these unrelated tiles and then bam! You find a word. And you do that 12-15 times a game. Chess is like soccer — not a lot of scoring. Scrabble is lke basketball — you score a lot of quick hits."
He offered two words every Scrabble player should know: “qi,” the Chinese word that English speakers also spell as “chi,” meaning natural energy or life force; and “za,”which is legitimate slang for pizza.
There was no immediate comment from a publicist for Hasbro, which is headquartered in Pawtucket, R.I.