So You Win the Big One – Can You Keep It Quiet?

Is it possible to keep a lottery win secret from other people?
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  • Author:
    Shaun Greer
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With lottery jackpots reaching sky-high figures, ticket buyers spend their days dreaming about how to spend their potential windfall. While there are those who would love to lap up the attention after a big win, though, there are others who’d rather keep their identity under wraps.

Can you really keep a jackpot win quiet, though? It all depends on where you live.

In fact, winning a big sum of money can have a downside. Having your identity splashed all over the media can cause all sorts of people to crawl out of the woodwork with their hands out. Even worse, you could become the target of criminals looking to scam you out of your cash.

So, how do privacy laws differ in different countries? Let’s take a closer look.

Canadian Winners Go Public

In Canada, there are laws that require winners to go public. Winners are obliged to participate in various lottery public relations activities, like receiving a massive cheque and posing for photographs. The country’s provincial lottery corporations claim transparency is a necessity and helps to promote future ticket sales.

Of course, many winners have pleaded to remain anonymous. One lucky $50 million winner from B.C. said his ticket had been transferred to a trust for the trust to claim the winnings. But the lottery corporation remained adamant that only individuals or syndicates could claim a prize. It took 21 months of back and forth arguments and in the end, the winner had the trust transfer the ticket back into his name. He then collected his winnings and had no choice but to go public.

In the same year, though, a winner from Ontario managed to keep their identity under wraps. According to lottery officials, the person had rare personal circumstances which meant they took the decision to allow them to remain anonymous.

Winning in America

In the United States, only six states allow lottery jackpot winners to keep their identity a secret. If you win outside of Maryland, South Carolina, Kansas, Delaware, North Dakota or Ohio, though, you are legally required to make your win public knowledge. There are even mandatory press briefings to attend.

Like many rules, though, there are a couple of exceptions. In some states, US winners can hire a lawyer to claim their lottery winnings on their behalf. In some states, if you can prove that going public would put you at the risk of harm, you may be allowed to remain anonymous.

Australian Winners

Refreshingly, lottery officials in Australia encourage jackpot winners to keep things a secret. They encourage winners to keep the news private to avoid people exploiting their newfound wealth.

European Lottery Winners

In the United Kingdom, winners must reveal their age and location, and sometimes what they do for a living. Alternatively, jackpot winners can choose to keep their win quiet. If a winner chooses complete privacy, lottery officials won’t even release details about where the ticket was purchased.

As for jackpot winners in Europe, they have the choice of full anonymity.

China’s Big Winners

Have you ever noticed how lottery winners in China pose for pictures wearing different masks? Upon closer investigation, we discovered that this is because winners have the choice to remain anonymous or go public when they scoop a lottery jackpot. Chinese lottery officials encourage anonymity, though, for the sake of safety and security.

However, all lottery winners in the country must claim their winnings in person and take part in a photoshoot. If the winner prefers to keep their wealth quiet, they’re given a costume or masks to wear in the photos. So, if you do come across a Chinese lottery winner in the press, don’t be surprised to discover them dressed up as a character from a film or cartoon.

While it depends where in the world you are, what would you prefer to do if you won the next massive Powerball jackpot?

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