The New Hampshire Powerball winner of $560 million will not only get to maintain her privacy, but she'll get to keep her hundreds of millions of dollars in prize money, a judge ruled Monday, the Washington Post reported.
What's the history?
The unidentified woman, who won the large sum of money in a January Powerball drawing, signed the winning ticket with her legal name, but later discovered that because she'd done that, she would not be able to remain anonymous.
Because the woman did not sign the winning ticket in the name of a trust, state lottery rules mandated that the woman's identity would be made public if she wanted to claim the prize.
As a result of laws prohibiting the woman from being able to maintain both her privacy and a substantial lottery win, she filed a lawsuit to fight the law requiring the release of her identity.
In court documents, the longtime New Hampshire resident said that she desires 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," and wanted to live a life "far from the glare and misfortune that has often fallen upon other lottery winners."
Initially, New Hampshire Lottery Executive Director Charlie McIntyre discussed the issue with the New Hampshire state attorney general’s office, and the two of them came to the same conclusion: The 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. "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."
What happened in court?
On Monday, Hillsborough County Superior Court Southern District's Judge Charles Temple granted the unnamed woman's wish of remaining anonymous.
A portion of the judge's ruling stated that revealing the woman's name would be an invasion of privacy because lotto winners in some cases are subjected to "repeated solicitation, harassment, and even violence."
"The Court therefore has no difficulty finding that [the woman] would also be subject to similar solicitation and harassment if her identity were disclosed," the resolution read.
The resolution noted that only the woman's hometown would be released for public consumption, and the Post noted that the woman hailed from Merrimack. The winning ticket was sold in that same town at a local market.
According to New Hampshire Public Radio, "A lawyer with the New Hampshire Attorney General's office, which argued the case on behalf of the Lottery Commission, says it is still reviewing the decision and can't yet comment on a possible appeal."
New Hampshire Public Radio also reported that the woman claimed the jackpot prize last week and took a lump sum amount of $264 million after taxes.
According to the outlet, the woman immediately donated a total of $250,000 to local nonprofit organizations.
McIntyre in a statement said, "While we don't know the winner's identity, we do know that her heart is in the right place. These substantial donations are an indication of her generosity and they will make a significant difference in the lives of many throughout our community."
William Shaheen, an attorney for the unnamed woman, detailed his client's glee in a statement.
"She was jumping up and down," he said of his client. "She will be able to live her life normally."