$560M Lottery Winner Sues for Anonymity

By Ben Hamill - October 04 2018
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$560M Lottery Winner Sues for Anonymity

A New Hampshire Powerball lottery winner went to court in a bid to claim her $560 million win anonymously, and won. Judge Charles Temple ruled that, while the woman named as Jane Doe has the right to keep her identity private, her hometown of Merrimack can be named.

According to state laws, winners cannot remain anonymous, but the winner knew that, if her name was made public, she would be subject to no end of harassment. Her only option was to take the state’s Lottery Commission to court.

In his ruling, the judge made it clear that he agreed with the winner’s assertion that publicity would lead to high levels of unwanted solicitation. He added that she had been able to prove that her interest in remaining unnamed was greater than the public’s interest in her identity.

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Lawyers’ Tip Too Late

The winner reportedly signed her ticket after the draw that turned out to be her lucky one, and it was that small act that threatened to compromise her privacy. She found out later from lawyers her anonymity could have been assured if she had signed it in the name of a trust.

The commission did admit that nothing on the ticket explains that signing it is enough to reveal someone’s identity. However, it argued that fact is detailed on its website.

The winner established the Good Karma Family Trust this year, but the commission continued to argue that making her identity public would prove she is a valid participant and winner. Judge Temple was unconvinced, and ruled that a trustee sent on another’s behalf could not be reasonably regarded as either.

According to William Shaheen, the winner’s lawyer, she jumped with joy when she heard Temple had ruled in her favor. He added that his client would be able to live a normal life because of it.

Of the $264 million received by her lawyers after tax, $150 000 of that has been earmarked for donations to Girls Inc., and $99 000 will be divided equally between 3 different chapters of End 68 Hours of Hunger. Other donations of between $25 million and $50 million will also be made in coming years.

How to Remain Anonymous

In some states, remaining anonymous is not allowed, while it is in others. In yet other places, the law allows winners to remain private by following certain steps.

According to attorney Jason Kurland, a winning ticket should always be signed because not to do so increases the potential of being defrauded. The easiest way for winners to get around this is to sign their name small, and then add the name of a trust or trustees. The next step is to find a lawyer to represent the trust – and then to keep as quiet about the win as possible.

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