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states where lottery winners may remain anonymous

If you win the Mega Millions $1.6 billion jackpot in some states, you can remain anonymous

The record $1.6 billion drawing for the Mega Millions lottery is on Tuesday.

Mega Millions jackpot reaches $1.6 billion

As the Mega Millions jackpot heads toward a record $1.6 billion drawing Tuesday, some ticket-holding hopefuls may wonder if they would be able hide their identities if they won.

The lottery prize is now the biggest ever in the U.S.

Some financial experts advise winners of big lottery prizes to try to remain anonymous.

But only a handful of states allow winners to decide whether they want to stay anonymous. Some states have a law explicitly requiring that lottery winners be publicly identified.

Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina all allow lottery winners to remain anonymous if that’s what the winners prefer, according to Maryland Lottery and Gaming.

Lottery winners in Texas can also stay private if they wish to.

Arizona lottery winners of $600 or more can remain anonymous for 90 days after winning their prizes, according to Maryland Lottery and Gaming. After 90 days, the winners’ identities become part of the public record meaning the information about the winne ‘s identity and the amount of the winning prize is subject to a public records request. Those in the interest of the information could find out by filing a request with the lottery that sold the ticket.

In Georgia, winners can choose against having their identities released publicly if their prize is larger than $250,000.

Most states have laws allowing the lottery that sold the ticket to make such information public.

In Michigan, Mega Millions and Powerball winners must step forward publicly, but winners of other state lottery games can remain anonymous should they choose, according to Maryland Lottery and Gaming.

Some states allow winners to claim their prize through a trust to avoid publicity.

In Maryland, however, a lottery winner can choose to remain anonymous only if they don’t claim the prize through a trust, Maryland Lottery and Gaming said.

New Hampshire requires winners to go public. However, a judge in Concord, New Hampshire, in March allowed the winner of a $560 Powerball jackpot to keep her identity private despite her having signed her ticket with her actual name.

The record $1.6 billion drawing for the Mega Millions lottery is on Tuesday.

Thinking of Going Off the Grid After Winning the Lottery? Not So Fast

Everyone dreams of it: having a small piece of paper with the right numbers printed on it and winning the life-changing $200 million, $700 million or $1 billion jackpot. But what happens after you win?

Many winners decide to remain anonymous — or at least try to — but that can be difficult when many states demand that the winners of large jackpots show their faces at news conferences.

At his own news conference in Madison, Wis., Manuel Franco, 24, who in a Powerball drawing last month won $768 million, the third-largest jackpot in United States lottery history, seemed to be trying not to divulge too much information about himself, perhaps to keep random family members from coming out of the woodwork. Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, he declined to say where he grew up, where he lived, what kind of car he drove or where he used to work. (He quit two days after winning.)

Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Texas, North Dakota and Ohio allow lottery winners to conceal their identities if the winnings exceed a certain dollar amount, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Other states, like New York, make it easy for winners to collect their prizes under the cover of an L.L.C. or an entity. But states like Wisconsin want winners to come forward to claim their prizes, although Wisconsin does not require them to appear at a news conference as Mr. Franco did.

After Mr. Franco’s $768 million win, “it seems a little ridiculous that there isn’t privacy when it comes to that,” Gary Tauchen, a Wisconsin state representative, said. “Certainly you have a lot of fourth and fifth cousins and it is just a situation when you’re under high stress.”

While Mr. Franco was answering questions about his lottery winnings as concisely as possible, Mr. Tauchen was introducing a bill seeking to ensure the privacy of lottery winners in Wisconsin.

“I know that it is one of those life-changing experiences when you need some time to adjust,” Mr. Tauchen said. “You don’t need the stress of other people putting pressure on you.”

And for jackpot winners like Mr. Franco, the pressure comes nearly immediately.

“For the next two weeks, people are going to be outside of his house,” Jason M. Kurland, a lawyer who has represented several winners of large lottery jackpots, said on Wednesday.

“I get those letters every week,” Mr. Kurland said, referring to the mail he receives intended for his clients. “They range from congratulatory letters to individuals having a tough time asking for handouts, to organizations looking for donations, to business men and women asking for investors.”

Mr. Kurland, who calls himself the Lottery Lawyer and represented the person in South Carolina who won the $1.54 billion Mega Millions jackpot last year, advises his clients to delete all their social media accounts before they claim their winnings. He also tells them to try to remove their address from public view as much as they can and to get new phone numbers. If there are children involved, he will hire security for the first couple of days.

Mr. Kurland tries to help his clients retain some privacy after they win, but if privacy is hard to achieve in 2019, anonymity is nearly impossible.

“It is very hard to participate in civil life and be anonymous,” Albert Gidari, the privacy director of the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School, said on Wednesday. “You can’t buy a car in cash and avoid disclosing who you are because now car dealers are financial institutions,” Mr. Gidari said, adding that it was nearly impossible to transfer money in and out of the United States without disclosing who you are to the government.

“He can get a lot of lawyers and accountants and figure out how to move and hide a lot of that money at great risk to himself for not complying with government reporting,” Mr. Gidari said. “You can’t get very far, but you can get far enough to get some degree of obscurity, even if you can’t get anonymity.”

Last year the winner of a $560 million Powerball jackpot in New Hampshire took the state to court to retain her anonymity while claiming her prize. The woman’s lawyers argued that she would be accosted with requests for money, and the state argued that lottery winners must be disclosed to make sure that winners are not related to lottery employees and that winnings are distributed fairly. The court decided disclosing the winner’s name would be an invasion of privacy and allowed the woman to anonymously claim her winnings.

“You want to be able to enjoy this crazy amount of money you luckily won, but at the same time you want to keep your privacy, so it’s a balance,” Mr. Kurland said.

But going off the grid, setting up shop on the beach and enjoying the fruits of your ticket are not necessarily possible without informing the government.

“If you leave the country, it’s worse,” Mr. Gidari said, adding that leaving the country and failing to report assets in the United States and abroad could lead to losing those assets.

Some states allow the winners of large jackpots to remain anonymous, but is it ever possible to retain your privacy after a life-changing windfall?