Powerball Winner Battles for the Right to Stay Anonymous

Colin Fredericson
By Colin Fredericson
February 7, 2018USshare
Powerball Winner Battles for the Right to Stay Anonymous
Powerball and Mega Millions lottery tickets are displayed in San Anselmo, California, on Jan. 3, 2018. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A New Hampshire women who won a $560 million Powerball prize is fighting in court for the right to remain anonymous.

The woman purchased the ticket from Reeds Ferry Market in Merrimack, New Hampshire. The market’s owner got $75,000 for selling the winning ticket and has already gone public with his identity in the media, according to Fox News.

But the winner of the ticket has yet to claim her prize. The controversy centers over lottery rules that require winners to reveal their identity including their name, town, and the amount of the winnings, according to Fox.

“She is a longtime resident of New Hampshire and is an engaged community member,” wrote the winner’s attorney, Steven Gordon, in court documents obtained by NewHampshire.com. “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.”

New Hampshire is one of the few states that allow winners to remain anonymous. But this winner did not follow the procedures for doing so. Instead, she signed the ticket in her name before she consulted a lawyer. She calls it “a huge mistake,” according to NewHampshire.com’s review of court documents.

The New Hampshire Lottery Commission’s website cites New Hampshire law as requiring the winner to reveal their identity. The website does not mention how establishing a trust fund can avert that requirement.

“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,” said Gordon, referring to his client as “Jane Doe,” via the court documents obtained by NewHampshire.com.

Now the winner wants to put the name of a trust on the ticket, but lottery officials say that if they let her alter the ticket her winnings will be void, according to Fox.

The winner has a hearing set for Feb. 21 to address the case, according to NewHampshire.com.

The law office where Gordon works published a blog post advising the Powerball winner to remain anonymous. The post says to keep the unsigned, winning ticket in a safety deposit box.

“Don’t sign that back of the ticket because if you sign it you lost confidentiality,” Attorney William Shaheen wrote in the post. “It becomes public, and you lost the option of staying anonymous.”

The post mentions that the previous New Hampshire Powerball winner, in 2016, stayed anonymous by using a trust with the help of the firm.


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