Lottery winner can’t claim $560 million prize because she won’t go public

Lottery winner can’t claim $560 million prize because she won’t go public
A multimillion-dollar lottery winner is fighting to keep her name private. But lottery rules stipulate that the winner's name, location, and prize amount won are to be part of public record. (Getty Images)

An unnamed New Hampshire woman hit the jackpot in January. She won a Powerball lottery prize of nearly $560 million after purchasing a ticket from a local market. There’s just one problem: The woman is so adamant about protecting her identity that, after being told some of her personal identifying information would be made public as a winner, she’s headed to court in an attempt to fight lottery laws requiring the release of her identity.

What’s the woman’s story?

According to court documents obtained by the New Hampshire Union Leader, the woman — identified in court documents only as “Jane Doe” and who’d signed the back of the winning ticket after discovering she’d won — now wants to be allowed to protect her identity or be allowed to alter the winning ticket to sign in the name of a trust.

Current law specifies that altering a signature on a winning ticket invalidates the right to win, according to the Union Leader. If the woman had initially signed the winning ticket in the name of a trust, her privacy could have been protected.

However, because the unnamed woman already signed the ticket, she cannot change the signature to a trust.

“She has described the signing as ‘a huge mistake,'” according to court records.

“After completing and signing the ticket, Ms. Doe met with counsel and learned for the first time that a trust could sign for and collect the winnings, thus preserving her privacy,” the woman’s attorney, Steven Gordon, said in court documents.

Gordon described the woman as a “longtime resident of New Hampshire” and an “engaged community member.”

“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,” Gordon added.

Court documents also said that the unnamed woman wants to live a life “far from the glare and misfortune that has often fallen upon other lottery winners.”

What are others saying?

Lottery officials say that naming winners protects the integrity of the drawings and protects the public against fraud, according to the Washington Post, and lottery rules stipulate that the winner’s name, location, and prize amount won are to be part of public record.

According to the Post, New Hampshire Lottery Executive Director Charlie McIntyre said in a statement that he’d discussed the issue with the New Hampshire state attorney general’s office.

The end result of the conversation resulted in more of the same: The unnamed woman must adhere to the lottery rules “like any other” if she intended to collect the half-billion-dollar prize.

“The New Hampshire Lottery understands that winning a $560 million Powerball jackpot is a life-changing occurrence,” a statement from McIntyre read, according to the Post. “Having awarded numerous Powerball jackpots over the years, we also understand that the procedures in place for prize claimants are critically important for the security and integrity of the lottery, our players and our games. While we respect this player’s desire to remain anonymous, state statutes and lottery rules clearly dictate protocols.”

According to the Union Leader, a hearing has been set for Feb. 21 to “address Doe’s request for injunctive relief.”

What’s she going to do with her winnings?

According to the court documents obtained by the Union Leader, the unnamed woman “intends to contribute a portion of her winnings to a charitable foundation so that they may do good in the world.”

“She wishes to be a silent witness to these good works, far from the glare and misfortune that has often fallen upon other lottery winners,” court records continued.

The woman faces two options for possible payment: She can take a lump sum cash payment of about $358 million, or she can opt for the 30-year annuity, which would pay the woman about $8 million annually to start, with a yearly increase.

What has happened to some other lottery winners?

  • A British couple in 2006 hit the lottery for a prize of nearly $2.5 million. After splurging on designer labels and bad investments, they lost most of their winnings. Their dream home — which they’d borrowed against — also burned to the ground.
  • Abraham Lee Shakespeare was a Florida man who took home a $13 million prize in 2006. Apparently benevolent to the core, Shakespeare gave away much of his winnings and even allowed homeless people to stay in his home after his big win. After Shakespeare won, he was befriended by a woman named Dee-Dee Moore. Shakespeare went missing shortly thereafter and was discovered buried in a concrete slab in the basement of Moore’s boyfriend’s home. Moore was convicted in Shakespeare’s murder.
  • You can read more lottery horror stories here.