When a woman from New Hampshire found out that she had just won $560 million in the latest Powerball lottery, she knew that her life was going to change forever – and not necessarily in the way she wanted it to.
Winning the Lottery: Blessing or Curse?
Winning the lottery was a life-long dream of one mysterious New Hampshire Woman – let’s call her Jane Doe – and her wish finally came true last month after she found out that she was in possession of the winning numbers for the Powerball lottery. Her bank balance was about to increase exponentially – but so was the risk of getting harmed by criminals and scammers who would do anything to get a piece of the lottery pie.
Jane’s initial excitement turned into horror when she discovered the fate of previous lottery winners, 70 per cent of whom had lost all their millions within the first few years. She knew she had to prevent the lottery company from splashing her name and images everywhere on the media but the lotto rules state that the winners can’t claim their cash prize until they disclose their identity to the public. Not knowing what else to do, Jane turned to the New Hampshire court to ask for protection from criminals and thieves who would not leave her alone after finding out about her nine-digit bank balance.
The Winner’s Privacy and Safety at Risk
Now that Jane was in possession of millions of dollars, she decided to splurge on a good lawyer to fight her case in the court and prevent the lottery organization from publicizing her name. NewHampshire.com obtained the legal documents of Jane Doe’s case in which she was described as an active community member in New Hampshire, where she had been residing for all her life.
Her lawyer explained that Jane has a job, a house and several friends at work and in her neighborhood. If her identity were to be disclosed, the lottery winner would be forced to leave her home and relocate elsewhere. She would lose her friends, her privacy, her job and her freedom. Moreover, her family would also be at threat from criminals who could kidnap them and ask Jane for a huge ransom.
Strict Lottery Rules
The lottery officials argued that if they let Jane take her half billion dollars without revealing her identity to the public, people would not trust the organization and think that they are being scammed. The lottery’s integrity and trust depend on disclosing the winners’ identity, which also protects them from inside fraud or wrongdoing by the officials of the lottery themselves.
Flashing images and inspirational stories of lottery winners is also a great marketing tool which drives people to buy more tickets in hopes of becoming the next millionaires to be featured in the news.
The company’s open-record laws give officials the right to withhold the money from the winner until she lets them use her name publicly. The New Hampshire law allows lottery winners to use a false signature on their ticket to create an anonymous trust fund but since Jane has already given the lottery officials her real signature and name, altering any details on the ticket will nullify it.
The statement from the director of the lottery said that their organization cannot change its rule for one winner, and if they do extend the curtsy to Jane, it might set a precedence for future lottery winners to choose anonymity at will. He explained that the officials are sympathetic with Jane whose privacy and safety is at risk after winning a life-changing sum of money, but she must go through the same procedure as the rest of the winners before her.