The lucky winner of last month's $560 million Powerball would rather keep her identity a secret even if she has to go to court to protect her anonymity, and in essence, her safety.
Under existing lottery rules, the winner is obliged to publicly claim the winnings, but in the process she runs the risk of exposing herself to both friends and criminals alike who might take advantage of her new-found huge fortune. The New Hampshire winner fears that exposing her identity and losing her privacy could put her life in danger like the other winners before her who were robbed or killed over their newly-acquired wealth.
The winner has another game plan to ensure both her life and her winnings are kept safe and secure: she is suing the Lottery Commission to win the right to maintain anonymity when claiming the jackpot. According to the winner’s lawyer, the woman ( identified as "Jane Doe") did not know beforehand that she could have formed an anonymous trust when buying the ticket and now regards signing the back of the ticket “a huge mistake.” She has then requested to be exempted from New Hampshire’s “Right to Know” law.
The petition argues that Jane Doe “deeply values her privacy.” It says further that she wishes to continue to have “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.”
The New Hampshire winner has since created a trust, “through which she intends to distribute her winnings,” including giving a portion of her new money to a charitable foundation. She maintains, however, her preference to “be a silent witness to these good works, far from the glare and misfortune that has often fallen upon other lottery ‘winners'.’”
New Hampshire Lottery Executive Director Charlie McIntyre said that while they “respect this player’s desire to remain anonymous, they have to abide by protocols as dictated by state statutes and lottery rules.
A hearing on the case has been scheduled for February 21. The results of case will certainly serve as an interesting case study, if not parameter, for similar cases that can happen in the future.