What would you do when faced with the following dilemma – collect a Powerball jackpot of 560 million dollars and reveal your identity or remain anonymous without the cash?
Don’t rush to give an answer!
Just think about it – you’d be a millionaire, but everyone would know. Your relatives may ask for money. The same applies to your exes (blackmail, anyone?), coworkers, even people you don’t know. Wave goodbye to your privacy and probably spend some of that money on the purchase of a surveillance system!
A woman from New Hampshire is facing that very same dilemma right now. In January, she won a 560-million dollar Powerball jackpot. As a part of the game’s rules, winners cannot remain anonymous. The woman, however, is attempting to maintain her right to privacy while also trying to cash in her millions.
The Curious Case of Jane Doe
The woman, identified as Jane Doe in court documents, had started court proceedings for the purpose of being allowed to get her hands on the jackpot while also staying anonymous.
Steven Godon, the winner’s attorney, revealed only that she’s a long-time resident of New Hampshire and an active community member. According to Gordon, his client wants to maintain the ability to freely engage in her everyday activities without being recognized everywhere.
At the same time, Powerball representatives are standing firm behind the rules that have been in place so far. The identification of jackpot winners is one of the important rules when it comes to ensuring transparency.
What Does the Law Have to Say?
It will be very, very difficult for Jane Doe to combat the rules currently in place. The law doesn’t have her back at the time being.
According to New Hampshire rules pertaining to lotteries, winners are required to reveal their identity. The records are available for public viewing based on the local open-records regulations. The only option in terms of personal anonymity is entering a trust. Jane Doe, however, has already put her name and her signature on the winning ticket. If she attempted to create a trust for maintaining her anonymity, she will no longer have the chance to cash in the 560 million dollars.
As you see, it’s a catch 22 for our “poor” lottery winner.
A public statement reads that while winner privacy is of utmost concern, the integrity of the lottery is heavily dependent on providing public information about the identity of jackpot winners.
Attorney Gordon has responded that transparency is already missing to an extent due to the fact that a trust can already accept prizes on behalf of lottery winners. This way, their names don’t have to be revealed to the public. All that Jane Doe is asking for is the chance to alter the signed ticket without it becoming invalid. His statement also says that the lottery is obliged by law to provide financial reports about fiscal management, which more or less ensures the adequate and unbiased allocation of funds.
The legal battle is still ongoing. The unlucky judge responsible for ruling on Jane Doe’s request is Charles Temple. Judge Temple, however, hasn’t come up with a final decision so far.
It’s interesting to point out that for every single day the jackpot legal battle is extended, Jane Doe is losing the massive 14,000 dollars in interest. Since the drawing took place on January 6, the amount that she has already lost by not cashing in the award is almost 0.5 million dollars!
A winning ticket has to be redeemed within one year of the drawing takes place. There’s still time for resolution and we’re eagerly awaiting the court decision on this precedent.
The Curse of the Lottery Winner
There’s a very clear reason why Jane Doe doesn’t want her name out there. It’s the so-called curse of the lottery winner. Many people who have become jackpot millionaires see their lives taking a turn for the worse instead of for the better.
Take the story of William Post as an example. In 1988, he won a 16.2-million-dollar jackpot. As soon as this happened, an ex-girlfriend sued him for a share of the winnings. Her claim was successful and she soon took away a portion of William’s jackpot. But wait! The story doesn’t end there.
Eventually, William’s brother was arrested after placing an order with a hitman against his own brother. That little genius planned to kill William, thinking that he would inherit the millions upon the death of his sibling.
Ibi Roncaioli from Ontario won five million dollars in 1991. Nearly two million dollars were dedicated to a child she had with a man other than her husband. When the husband in question found out about the arrangement, he poisoned Ibi and was found guilty of manslaughter.
These stories aren’t too far-fetched and they’re not the only ones that justify the decision of our Jane Doe.
Billy Bon Harrell Jr. – a preacher who worked at Home Depot – won 31 million dollars in 1997. Due to his personality and good nature, Billy found it very difficult to turn down the money requests that kept on coming and coming, and coming. This all proved to be too much and it caused destruction in his life. Billy got divorced and since he couldn’t take the new turn his life had taken, he eventually committed suicide.
You already get the picture but here’s one final example – the story of Jack Whittaker. He was already a wealthy man when he won 314.9 million dollars from the lottery. Soon after, attempts to get money out of him began.
Jack had tens of thousands of people get in touch with him for money. His car was vandalized several times because he was known to keep cash in it. In addition, the company that he runs was hit by dozens of lawsuits (most of them based on false claims) for the purpose of squeezing cash out of him. Jack also lost family members to drug overdoses and suspicious circumstances. Because it all proved to be too much to bear, Jack’s wife eventually filed for divorce.
It seems that what Jane Doe is trying to do is pretty smart, regardless of the fact that her chances of success are minimal. If it were up to you, would you be keen on maintaining your anonymity after winning the lottery?