Why Powerball Players Are Advised To Sign Tickets
A woman from New Hampshire is bidding to claim a Powerball jackpot of $559.7 million anonymously and says it was a mistake to sign the back of her ticket. As she prepares for a court hearing later in February, find out why she feels she should be allowed to keep her identity private and why state lotteries advise players to put their names on tickets.
Where are winners allowed to stay anonymous?
Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina are the only states where Powerball winners are allowed to stay anonymous.
Not New Hampshire?
No. Apart from the few states which allow anonymity, winners in other jurisdictions are compelled to reveal their identities in accordance with state laws which dictate that such information must be made available to the public.
What about trusts?
Yes. Lottery winners in some states, including New Hampshire, are permitted to claim their money through either a trust or a limited liability company (LLC). In this scenario, a law firm will help to set up a trust and the winner’s name is not disclosed. The last time the Powerball jackpot was won in New Hampshire, for example, all that was revealed was that the lucky player had decided to claim the prize through a group known as the Robin Egg 2016 Nominee Trust, with William Shaheen from law firm Shaheen & Gordon, P.A serving as the trustee. No more information was made public about the ticket holder.
So what happened with the latest winner?
The jackpot winner from Saturday January 6th has not yet had their claim verified, but the woman at the centre of the debate is unhappy at the prospect of having her name made public. Appearing as Jane Doe at Hillsborough County Superior Court South in Nashua last week, she said that she signed the ticket she bought from Reed’s Ferry Market in Merrimack.
The winner put her name on the ticket in a panic to secure it and was only following directions from the New Hampshire Lottery Commission, but she was then advised by an attorney that she could create a trust. The issue is that as the ticket has been signed, the lottery commission would have no choice but to release records identifying her if a request was filed under the state’s ‘Right to Know’ law.
Requests for information are common after any drawing, and are especially likely after a big win. Charlie McIntyre, executive director of the state lottery, explained in a statement that such procedures are in place to maintain the integrity of the lottery, its players and its games.
So she still hopes to remain anonymous?
Yes. The woman had hoped to be able to ‘white-out’ her name from the ticket, only to be told this would invalidate it. She is now hoping that either the commission will grant her an exception, or that they will agree to redact any identifying information from relevant press releases - on the grounds that her privacy interest outweighs the insignificant personal interest in revealing her name.
The player is concerned about potential risks to her safety in the future if her identity is made public and just wants to lead a normal life away from scrutiny. “She intends to contribute a portion of her winnings to a charitable foundation, so that they may do good in the world,” states the complain, as reported by Courthouse New Service. “She wishes to be a silent witness to these good works, far from the glare and misfortune that has often fallen upon other lottery ‘winners’.”
Why do state lotteries advise players to sign tickets?
The main reason to sign your ticket is so that it cannot be claimed by somebody else. As the New Hampshire Lottery states on its official website: “A ticket is a bearer instrument. Whoever “bears” (holds) the ticket is considered the owner unless the back of the ticket has been signed. If you lose an unsigned winning ticket, whoever finds it can legally claim the prize. The New Hampshire Lottery/MUSL, retailers or contractors shall not be responsible for lost or stolen tickets.”
What happens now?
A court hearing has been set for February 21st to address the woman from New Hampshire’s case, and the deadline for the prize to be claimed is not until the one-year anniversary of the drawing next January.
Powerball will continue this week with the jackpot now approaching $200 million, and players should familiarise themselves with the rules of the game before playing so they know if they are allowed to remain anonymous in the event of a big win. Good luck!
Page Last Updated: 2/7/2018 8:34:09 AM