New Hampshire Powerball Winner Allowed To Stay Anonymous

Tuesday March 13th 2018

The Powerball player from New Hampshire who won $559.7 million in the drawing on Saturday January 6th has won her battle to stay anonymous. A judge has ruled that it would be an invasion of privacy for her name to be released against her wishes, despite the state’s ‘Right To Know’ law and the lottery’s insistence that winners have to go public if they sign their tickets.

How The Saga Unfolded

The woman had not wanted her name to be made available after she landed the Powerball jackpot earlier this year, arguing that it would put her safety at risk. She had only been made aware after she had signed her ticket that she could have claimed the money through a trust, which would have effectively allowed her to stay anonymous. As the case went to court, New Hampshire lottery officials warned that any attempt to remove her signature would invalidate her ticket and said they would have no choice but to reveal her identity in accordance with open-records laws and to ensure trust in the lottery system.

The winner, who referred to herself only as Jane Doe in court, was allowed to finally bank the prize last week, but she was not in attendance at the ceremony as the judge continued to mull over the case. Lawyer William Shaheen, working on her behalf, collected a check for $352 million after she decided to accept the one-off cash sum rather than the annuity option, and announced that his client planned to give as much as $50 million to charity over the course of her life.

An Easy Decision

Judge Charles Temple has now concluded that the woman should be allowed to stay private, stating that lottery winners can be subject to ‘repeated solicitation, harassment and even violence'. In a 16-page resolution, Temple cited past winners who had received non-stop phone calls and begging requests from strangers, as well as one who had received a bomb threat. He wrote that the court has ‘no difficulty finding that [the woman] would also be subject to similar solicitation and harassment if her identity were disclosed’.” 

However, the judge did rule that the woman’s home team could be released, saying it was ‘highly unlikely’ that she could be identified from that information alone. The winner is reported to be from Merrimack, 25 miles south of Concord. The winning ticket was sold in Reeds Ferry Market on Daniel Webster Highway in Merrimack.

The Future

It remains to be seen what the implications of this case are for future lottery winners who wish to remain anonymous. There are only a few states - Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina - which currently allow players to keep their identities a secret. States such as New Hampshire and Texas allow winners to set up blind trusts to receive the money, but most jurisdictions say that players must go public.

The Powerball jackpot has not been won since the lucky lady from New Hampshire matched all the numbers more than two months ago, and is now back up to $420 million ahead of Wednesday night’s drawing. You can play from a retailer in any participating state or choose your Powerball numbers online.

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