Powerball winner sues for anonymity over $560m jackpot

A customer buys Powerball tickets at Kavanagh Liquors on 13 January 2016 in San Lorenzo, CaliforniaImage source, Getty Images

The winner of a $560 million (£400m) Powerball jackpot last month is suing state lottery officials in a bid to protect her anonymity.

The New Hampshire woman filed a civil complaint as Jane Doe, after making the "huge mistake" of signing the winning ticket without legal consultation.

State law says a winner's name, town and winning amount are public record.

But the woman later learned from a lawyer that she could avoid the law by claiming the lottery money via a trust.

The winner has not turned in her ticket yet, but showed lottery officials a photocopy of the front to support her claim for the country's eighth-largest lottery jackpot.

They told her that they would be compelled to disclose her identity in the event someone files a Right-to-Know request for the 6 January drawing.

However, she also wants "the freedom to walk into a grocery store or attend public events without being known or targeted as the winner of a half-billion dollars".

They argued her privacy interest outweighed the insignificant public interest in disclosing her name.

Charlie McIntyre, the state lottery's executive director, said in a statement that his agency understood winning such a large sum was a "life-changing occurrence".

But he added: "While we respect this player's desire to remain anonymous, state statutes and lottery rules clearly dictate protocols."

Media caption,
Nobody has claimed the $590m prize so far

Fortune without the fame?

Currently only six states allow lottery winners to maintain their anonymity: Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina.

New Hampshire is among the few other states that allow people to form a trust to claim prize money anonymously.

In 2016, the state's winner of a $487m US Powerball jackpot chose to remain anonymous, claiming their prize through a trust facilitated by a local law firm.

Because the latest winner has already signed her name on the winning ticket, any alteration to the signature would nullify the ticket for $559.7 million.

Mr McIntyre said his office had consulted the state attorney general's office and that the Powerball winner's ticket would have to be processed "like any other".