New Hampshire’s Powerball Winner In Anonymity Battle

Tuesday February 6th 2018

A woman from New Hampshire has gone to court to try and keep her identity private as she seeks to claim the $559.7 million Powerball jackpot from Saturday January 6th, with lottery officials insisting that they must continue to process the claim like any other.

How A Trust Can Preserve Anonymity

There are only a few states - Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina - where Powerball players can stay anonymous in the event of a big win. In some other states, such as New Hampshire, winners can claim their money through either a trust or limited liability company (LLC), where a representative from the associated law firm will serve as trustee.

Setting up a trust effectively allows the winner to preserve their anonymity, and is an option that was taken up the last time the Powerball jackpot was won in New Hampshire. The Robin Egg 2016 Nominee Trust, facilitated by law group Shaheen & Gordon, was named as the winner of the $487 million jackpot on July 30th 2016, and no further details were disclosed about who bought the ticket.

Right to Know

The issue for the player who won the jackpot last month is that she signed the back of her Powerball ticket following directions from the New Hampshire Lottery Commission. She was later advised by an attorney that she could create a trust to receive her winnings anonymously.

There is a Right to Know law in New Hampshire which dictates that the lottery commission must release records identifying any winner if a request for such information is filed. Requests for information are common after any drawing, and are especially likely after a big win. The winner is therefore concerned that her personal information will be brought out into the open and possibly put her safety at risk, when she feels she should be allowed to stay private.

The Integrity of the Lottery

Identifying herself only as Jane Doe, the woman appeared at Hillsborough County Superior Court South in Nashua to state her case. “She intends to contribute a portion of her winnings to a charitable foundation, so that they may do good in the world,” states the complaint, as first reported by Courthouse News Service. “She wishes to be a silent witness to these good works, far from the glare and misfortune that has often fallen upon other lottery ‘winners’.”

Lottery officials argue that they have no choice but to follow procedures which have been put in place ‘for the security and integrity’ of the lottery, its players and its games. “While we respect this player’s desire to remain anonymous, state statutes and lottery rules clearly dictate protocols,” said Charlie McIntyre, executive director for the New Hampshire Lottery, in a statement.

Date for the Hearing

The winner has been told that she cannot white-out her name from the back of the ticket as any alteration would invalidate it, but she would like the commision to either grant her an exception or have her identifying information redacted from any press release the commission has to make. Lawyers argue that her privacy interest outweighs the insignificant personal interest in disclosing her name.

Powerball players are advised to sign their tickets so that they do not miss out on prizes they might be due. If an entry is lost or misplaced, there is no way of knowing who it belongs to and someone else may be able to claim winnings which are not rightfully theirs.

The New Hampshire woman has a year to claim her prize, and a hearing has been set for February 21st to address her case.

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