Judge to decide whether Powerball winner can stay anonymous

Judge to decide whether Powerball winner can stay anonymous

A New Hampshire woman who says she won a $560 million Powerball jackpot in January is losing about $14,000 a day in interest as she fights a legal battle to remain anonymous, according to her attorney, the New Hampshire Union Leader reports. She could have set up a trust that would sign the ticket, claim the prize and be the public face of the victor, rather than Jane Doe personally.

But New Hampshire's lottery commission takes a very different stance, arguing that the state has an overriding interest in disclosing the names of lottery winners - not to satisfy the curiosity of neighbors or promote sales of lottery tickets, but as a hedge against corruption.

Judge Charles Temple heard arguments Tuesday from lawyers for the woman and the state. Georgia lawmakers are considering a bill to join them. Some states, including New Hampshire, allow trusts and not just individuals to claim winnings.

New Hampshire law requires release of a winner's name and hometown.

Among Doe's many would-be helpers are a Navy veteran "who had fallen on hard times"; a company in Indonesia seeking investors; a "caged bird" in North Carolina who's hoping "to soar"; a single father in Colorado who said he'll be Doe's "scapegoat"; and another North Carolina resident describing herself as a single parent of five, willing to turn in Doe's ticket in exchange for a six-bedroom house, used auto, and a small trust for each of her children, Gordon wrote. They said in court documents that she made a "huge mistake" when she signed her real name on the back of the ticket before contacting them.

The winning ticket, when presented to the commission, will be considered a public document, the commission's lawyers note.

Her legal team has requested to white-out her name and write the name of a trust over it, but the lottery commission says that would void her winnings.

Cavanaugh suggested tickets include a box buyers could check to indicate they didn't want their names revealed.

The woman hit Powerball for $560 million, and followed the directions for redeeming her ticket by signing the back of the lottery ticket with her name, address and phone number.

"The disclosure of Ms. Doe's identifying information would constitute an invasion of privacy because the limited public interest in disclosure is far outweighed by Ms. Doe's interest in remaining anonymous", the lawyers said.

The lawsuit describes the woman as an "engaged community member" who wants to return to Reeds Ferry Market, attend public events and otherwise function "without being known or targeted as the victor of a half-billion dollars".

New Hampshire Lottery Executive Director Charlie McIntyre says the woman should be able to claim her winnings as the dispute plays out and that they have been in discussion about transferring money.

His lottery purchase Saturday did not place him in that group.

"No victor", he said with a laugh. "I wouldn't have to check any box".

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