Lottery Winner Wants to Keep Identity Out of the Public Eye

Lottery Winner Wants to Keep Identity Out of the Public Eye

A lottery winner in New Hampshire is fighting in court to keep her identity secret while still hoping to claim the half-billion dollar prize.

News stories around the country have reported on the lawsuit over the identity of “Jane Doe”, who is litigating with New Hampshire lottery officials over whether state law allows her to claim her prize while keeping her name out of the public eye.

One such story, “All she has to do to collect a $560 million lotto jackpot is make her name public. She refuses” (available here), appeared in the Washington Post this month, and described some of the problems that publicity has brought to other lottery winners.

“Remaining anonymous can alleviate some of those problems, according to Shaheen & Gordon, P.A., the law firm that is representing the New Hampshire Powerball winner” wrote the Post.

The laws of some states allow for anonymity of lottery winners, while the laws of some states permit trusts to accept lottery payments on behalf of individual winners.  (This 2016 news story describes the laws of some states.)

Left unsaid in these news stories is that some lottery factoring companies have litigated the issue of whether lottery recipients can remain anonymous, seeking to obtain the names of lottery winners in order to market to those who might sell the rights to future lottery payments in exchange for an immediate, discounted lump sum.  See, e.g., Stone Street Capital, Inc. v. Michigan Bureau of State Lottery, 263 Mich. App. 683, 689 N.W.2d  541 (2004) (holding that names, addresses and other personal information of lottery winners and their assignees were exempt from disclosure under Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act).

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