She Won The $560 Million Powerball — And Immediately Regretted This
(Photo by Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
When this New Hampshire woman won the $560 million Powerball jackpot in January, she did what most people would do. She signed the back of her ticket.
But it almost cost her more than she bargained for.
Here’s what you need to know and what you should do if you’re fortunate enough to follow in her footsteps and win the lottery.
Step #1: Remain anonymous
If you win the lottery, your best bet is to remain anonymous.
With your newfound fortune, the last thing you want is to draw attention to your newfound fortune. Jane Doe (the Powerball winner whose name has not been disclosed) realized after she signed her winning lottery ticket that she wished to remain anonymous.
Typically, the choice to remain anonymous after you win the lottery may not be yours.
The rules regarding anonymity vary by state, with some states requiring all lottery winners to disclose their identity. Why?
Some lottery officials say they want transparency and to ensure that the winner is not related to a lottery official. Therefore, lottery commissions strive for transparency, and typically want winners to disclose their name, city and prize amount.
Remaining anonymous when you win the lottery can only be done in six U.S. states: Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina. The remaining states where Powerball is sold, including Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, require that winners publicly disclose their identity.
In New Hampshire, a lottery winner’s name, town and prize amount are publicly disclosed as part of the state’s “Right To Know” law.
However, Doe asked a state judge to grant her anonymity even though she signed her name on the back of the ticket and lives in a state that does not permit anonymity for lottery winners.
On Monday, Judge Charles Temple granted her request – to the objection of New Hampshire lottery officials who argued that revealing her identity increases transparency and trust in the lottery system in accordance with state rules. The judge ruled that revealing her name would constitute an invasion of privacy since lottery winners can face – according to Temple’s order – “repeated solicitation, harassment, and even violence.” The judge ruled, however, the winner had to reveal her town (Merrimack).
Step #2: Sign the winning lottery ticket
So, if you win the lottery and live in a state that does not guarantee anonymity, should you still sign the back of the ticket?
It may sound outdated, but you should always sign the back of a winning lottery ticket.
A lottery ticket is considered a bearer instrument, which means that whoever signs the ticket can claim the lottery winnings.
Therefore, if you lose an unsigned winning ticket, the person who find it legally can claim the prize.
The question then is what name do you sign on the back of the ticket – particularly if you want to remain anonymous.
You can accept a lottery prize through legal structures such as a blind trust that can protect your identity. In this case, the winner created the Good Karma Family 2018 Nominee Trust. Her lawyer, William Shaheen, accepted the lump sum prize of $352 million (approximately $264 million after taxes) on her behalf.
What’s the first thing she did with her new fortune? She donated almost $250,000 to charity – and has plans to donate up to $50 million. Way to make lemonade.
If you win the lottery, make sure to do this one thing.