No one defied the odds and claimed Monday’s gigantic Powerball jackpot so the grand prize for Wednesday, Nov. 2 is even larger.
While the $1.2 billion (before taxes) windfall will undoubtedly change the life of someone lucky enough to win it, exactly how life-changing that event will be depends on where the lucky ticket purchase happens.
Powerball is a multistate game. However, local US lottery laws govern how players claim their prizes of such sizes. Many states try to afford winners some privacy in the process while others require full disclosure.
Powerball jackpot rises to rare heights
Monday’s drawing already featured the second-largest Powerball jackpot ever at an estimated $1 billion. The $1.2 billion estimate for someone lucky enough to match all six numbers in order thus moves toward truly historic territory.
The biggest Powerball jackpot ever claimed was $1.586 billion, setting three players for life in January 2016. That still ranks as the largest lottery prize in US history as well.
Mega Millions players have claimed a couple of 10-figure prizes as well, including two players in Illinois in September.
A total of 38 Powerball drawings have passed now since the last time a player matched all six numbers in order. If that trend stops at drawing No. 39 on Wednesday, the player(s) will have some important decisions to make.
The appropriate statutes in the states where the player(s) bought the lucky ticket will settle some of those matters.
Some states protect US lottery winners’ identities
The benefits of remaining anonymous when claiming such a prize are obvious. Among them is the ability to avoid acquaintances coming out of the woodwork pleading for a share of the money.
Even after taxes, a $1.2 billion jackpot represents an astronomical amount of cash.
Yet, state lotteries have a legitimate reason to publicize winners’ identities. It’s all about fairness and transparency. Sharing every detail of the game’s process, from the drawing to the prize awards, inspires consumer confidence that the games are not rigged.
Many states try to balance that need by giving players some anonymity, though. However, many states have particular qualifications for anonymous claims.
In others, it’s all about how you claim the prize that decides whether you can do so without sharing your identity.
If you win Wednesday night’s drawing and you have a physical ticket, the important thing is not to sign the back of the ticket until you have consulted with a local legal professional. Doing so might ruin your opportunity to stay anonymous through the process.
Which states have lottery winner privacy protections?
Following is a list of each state with some level of lottery winner identity protections and a short synopsis of the special conditions if any.
- Arizona – only for prizes of $100,000 or greater
- Colorado – via an LLC or trust
- Connecticut – via an LLC or trust
- Florida – via an LLC or trust
- Georgia – only for prizes of $250,000 or greater
- Louisiana – via an LLC or trust
- Michigan – only for prizes of $10,000 or more
- Minnesota – only for prizes of $10,000 or more
- New Jersey
- Ohio – via an LLC or trust
- Pennsylvania – via an LLC or trust
- New Hampshire – via an LLC or trust
- New York – via an LLC or trust
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- Tennessee – via an LLC or trust
- Texas – only for prizes of $1 million and upward
- Vermont – via an LLC or trust
- Virginia – only for prizes of at least $10 million
- West Virginia – only for prizes of $1 million and upward
All other states that have lotteries and offer Powerball require you to publicly disclose your identity when you claim prizes. Many of the state lotteries in those places will widely publicize your win in their marketing materials as well.
Other good practices to observe if you win
For all the states that give you the option to claim a prize as an entity instead of a person, some of the documents about the formation of those LLCs or trusts might be public. Someone might be able to trace the prize back to the winner in that way.
That’s why it’s vitally important for winners of prizes of this size to enlist the aid of financial and legal professionals immediately after verifying their wins. Another good piece of advice is to keep your win private while those professionals are busy setting you up to make the most of your luck.
Finally, this is good information if you are considering playing Powerball but don’t reside in one of these states. State laws govern this situation depending on where players bought winning tickets, not where the winners maintain their legal residences.
For example, a player who lives in Iowa but bought their winning Powerball ticket in Illinois would get to take advantage of Illinois’ privacy laws because the transaction occurred in Illinois, not Iowa. Again, an attorney can help in navigating this situation tremendously.