Imagine winning a massive Powerball jackpot.
Just like that, you achieve celebrity status. Well, among your friends and family, at least.
But, is going public about your win in your best interest, or will it bring all sorts of characters and situations to your door?
We know that some lotteries do require jackpot winners to claim their winnings publicly. Others, however, allow you to remain anonymous.
That’s great news if you haven’t seen your great-aunty-Ida-twice-removed in a decade and fear she’ll be over to collect some cash in no time at all.
Below, we look at a few winners who have managed to stay anonymous after winning a big jackpot.
Just last month, the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) paid out the biggest Lotto 6/49 jackpot ever in the province.
Who won? Our guess is as good as yours.
We do know that the lucky winner purchased their ticket in Coquitlam. We also know that they received a life-changing $30-million jackpot from the draw on April 25.
BCLC say they carry out a comprehensive prize-claim process for winners. One of the stipulations for claiming a large prize is that the winner agrees to having their identity made public.
However, April’s lucky winner requested anonymity, based on unknown circumstances. It took a lot of investigation and groundwork, but the BCLC granted the request.
Not too long ago, we published a post about Jane Doe, a Powerball winner who scooped the $560-million jackpot and was allowed to remain anonymous, too.
Under the pseudonym “Jane Doe,” the winner sued the New Hampshire Lottery, in an effort to collect her winnings through a trust so as to remain unknown. The court ruled in her favour.
In her lawsuit, Ms. Doe claimed that disclosing her identity would result in an invasion of her privacy. She wanted to avoid being a victim of threats, harassment and scams the way previous winners have been.
With at least two winners that we know of flying under the radar, we do wonder if all lottery winners should and can remain anonymous?
We’ve previously discussed how lottery companies prefer to reveal a winner’s identity to show that you, me and even great-aunt Ida can win large sums of money. Yet, there is a massive need for just the right balance to ensure a winner’s safety.
When a winner is revealed to the public, they become instantly known to investors and scammers alike. They may be millionaires, but they’re also walking targets for all sorts of adverse reactions. Let’s look at it another way.
Winners who prefer to stay anonymous might allow for a greater risk of cheating. If players start to believe that lottery draws - and indeed the winners - are fixed, ticket sales will plummet.
In the United Kingdom, winners are legally required to reveal certain details, such as their location and age. Alternatively, they do have the freedom to remain completely anonymous. If they opt to stay unknown, the National Lottery doesn’t even reveal where the ticket was purchased.
The EuroMillions lottery, which can be played across nine European countries also allows jackpot winners to maintain complete anonymity.
The same anonymity rules apply across the pond in Australia. Winners can maintain full privacy after a big windfall. Interestingly enough, Australian lottery companies encourage winners to remain anonymous.
And then there’s China. Winners in the Asian country are advised to arrive in disguise to collect their winnings. They usually wear masks as a way of ensuring personal privacy and safety. But, even with disguises, China’s residents ask whether the masked winners really are everyday people, or just company staff playing out a rather far-fetched scheme.
In New Zealand, winners are welcome to remain anonymous, too. In the roughly 30 years of selling lottery tickets, 87 Kiwi winners have won $5 million or more, and an estimated 99.5% have remained unknown to the public.
It seems there’s a fine line to walk if you do want to remain an anonymous Powerballwinner.
Most states do legally require winners to come forward. In Canada, you do need to provide your name and city of residence, and you may be obliged to participate in a public photo shoot.
If you do want to remain anonymous, though, you will have to present your case to the lottery board. If they approve, you’ll be granted permission to collect your prize without having to disclose your identity, just like BC’s latest winner. With more winners being granted anonymity, there is hope that if you’re the next big winner, no one will have to know about it—not even great-aunt Ida.