Winning a nine-figure Powerball jackpot is supposed to be a dream come true. But one recent winner thinks it is a potential nightmare.
Lottery rules state that the state must publicly identify winners in order to maintain the integrity of the contests. That has a New Hampshire woman balking at collecting her winnings. The unnamed woman is refusing to step forward and collect her $560-million jackpot, citing her desire to stay anonymous.
“She is a longtime resident of New Hampshire and is an engaged community member,” the woman’s attorney, Steven Gordon, wrote in the court documents. “She wishes to continue this work and the freedom to walk into a grocery store or attend public events without being known or targeted as the winner of a half-billion dollars.”
The woman is petitioning the courts, hoping to collect her winnings without publicly revealing her identity. However, she’s unlikely to win the case.
“New Hampshire lottery rules require the winner’s name, town and amount won be available for public information, in accordance with open-records laws.”
Not a petty lottery rule
The rule may seem superfluous. Most people probably believe it helps promote the lottery. That isn’t the case.
Sure, people seem to love pictures of winners with oversized checks. The real reason lottery winners need to reveal their identity though is game integrity. Without this type of public reporting, the lottery would be far more susceptible to cheating.
Case in point, the recent conviction of Eddie Tipton. The former information technology manager for the Multi-State Lottery Association was convicted last year of rigging multiple lotteries over a period of six years.
Without public identification of winners, it’s less likely the authorities would have uncovered Tipton’s scheme. After all, his accomplices would have remained anonymous, making it far more difficult to connect the dots back to Tipton.
Woman is right to be concerned
If you think the woman is making a mountain out of a molehill, think again.
Lottery winners are rarely prepared to handle their massive windfall. This makes them a prime target for the dregs of society.
In addition to the long list of lottery winners who went on to make poor financial decisions, they’re also targets for scammers and criminals.
As the Washington Post noted “there are numerous examples of people who’ve tried to swindle lottery winners out of their newly acquired cash — or take the money by force.” The Post went on to detail the tragic story of Georgia Lottery winner Craigory Burch Jr. who was gunned down in front of his family during a home invasion.
A loophole does exist to collect anonymously
There’s a well-known work-around to the public identification requirement. Previous winners of mega-jackpots formed private trusts prior to cashing in their winning tickets.
Unfortunately for Jane Doe, in her excitement she signed the back of the ticket. Any alteration or attempt to change the name to a private trust would void her winnings.
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