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Winners of big lottery jackpots often crave anonymity amid challenges to do so

Insider BuzzInsider Buzz: Winners of big lottery jackpots often crave anonymity amid challenges to do so
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RED BUD, Ill. — The tiny Illinois farm town of Red Bud is the kind of place with few strangers and few secrets. Yet the community of 3,700 has a lingering mystery on its hands: Who bought the winning Mega Millions lottery ticket, and why hasn't the winner of the world-record $656 million jackpot come forward?

Though secrecy surrounds the ticket sold at the MotoMart convenience store, lottery officials note it's not unusual for winners to lay low — and those who advise them say it's just plain smart.

It's exactly what the Kansas winner of the March 30 Mega Millions drawing decided to do. Kansas Lottery Director Dennis Wilson said the person came to the agency's Topeka headquarters Friday morning with an attorney and some financial advisers. Wilson said the person does not want to be identified, even by gender — something Kansas law allows.  (See Kansas Mega Millions winner claims jackpot anonymously, Lottery Post, Apr. 6 2012.)

"They obviously don't need the publicity," Wilson said. "They're not used to the publicity of where they're from, where they live."

A third winning ticket was sold in Maryland, and the winners — three public school empoyees — have likewise chosen to remain anonymous.    (See Maryland Mega Millions winners claim prize anonymously, Lottery Post, Apr. 10, 2012.)

For all of its promise, instant riches come with a price, starting with the immediate barrage of calls from relatives and distant friends eager for a handout. Never mind the need to hire specialists to address tax implications and craft a disciplined investment strategy that could avoid the fate of past lottery winners who've spectacularly burned through vast fortunes or found they were better off before they struck it rich.

"I'm so happy I'm seeing this. This is exactly what they should do," said Susan Bradley, a Florida certified financial planner and founder of the Sudden Money Institute, a resource center for new money recipients such as lottery winners. "Some people are really afraid — scared of blowing it, losing who they are and being taken advantage of. Hopefully they're getting their ducks in a row and starting to settle into the magnitude of the experience.

"If you understood how unbelievably complicated this is, you might not play," she added. "That's not to say that winning is a bad thing. (But with a jackpot), all your old problems are over and all your new ones are just starting."

Some states, such as Kansas and Maryland, don't require winners to reveal their identities. Even in those that do, winners can find ways to stay out of the public eye.

In Rhode Island, Kathleen Last took nearly a month before claiming a $60 million Powerball prize last Tuesday, then had her attorney, Edmund Alves, pose alongside the oversized lottery check during the official announcement.  (See 2nd Powerball winner from Rhode Island announced, Lottery Post, Apr. 5 2012.)

While her name and hometown were required to be revealed, Last was under no obligation to speak publicly about the lump-sum payout she chose — $25.6 million after taxes, with some of that windfall intended to help a disabled niece requiring expensive care.

"It's a natural human wish to maintain privacy when you have a lightning bolt strike you and you have a life-changing event," Alves told The Associated Press on Friday. "There are a lot of people approaching you from all sides for donations, gifts and whatever, and you want to just stay under the radar. She's been trying to maintain some normalcy and stay out of the limelight as much as possible."

In Illinois, big jackpot winners are compelled to make themselves public to prove the lottery is paying out its prizes — something that wasn't done decades ago when such games of chance were scams, Illinois Lottery Superintendent Michael Jones said. Though the lottery could insist winners do a news conference, Jones said officials offer some wiggle room to those who want privacy.

"We will work with whoever the prize-winner is," he said. "But we would publicize as much as we can about the winner as is needed," and "ultimately an enterprising reporter can find out who that person is."

Maryland Lottery spokeswoman Carole Everett said of eight Mega Millions winners there since 2002, only a man named Ellwood "Bunky" Bartlett made his identity public. One couple and a woman who won initially came out but later asked that officials remove their names from publicity materials, Everett said.

Bartlett and about a half dozen other recent U.S. lottery winners did not return telephone messages seeking comment for this story.

"It's so hard for a lottery winner not to go out and shout it to the world," said Bradley, the Florida financial planner.

Some winners, for whatever reason, don't ever claim their prize.

For example, a winning Powerball ticket worth $77 million sold last summer in Georgia ended up expiring in December after no one came forward within the required 180 days, making it the state's largest unclaimed ticket since the lottery began in 1993.  (See $77M Powerball lottery ticket to expire Monday, Lottery Post, Dec. 22 2011.)

The unclaimed money was returned to each of the nearly three dozen participating Powerball states.

AP, Lottery Post Staff

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52 comments. Last comment 3 years ago by fastball 9.
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dpoly1's avatar - driver
PA
United States
Member #66141
October 16, 2008
1455 Posts
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Posted: April 11, 2012, 11:08 am - IP Logged

I'm going to lay low after I claim my Jackpot .......... you cannot claim via blind trust in Pennsylvania, so I will form the RLT after I get the money!

The lottery will not get a press conference from me ......... I will only comply with the minimum requirements ...............

I will be in the very nice hiding place until the frenzy dies down.

Patriot

dpoly1 - Playing the lottery to save the jobs of those that build, transport, sell & maintain luxury items! -

 

Eschew Poverty ........... Vote Conservative!

    Cletu$2's avatar - Lottery-050.jpg
    S.E.Iowa
    United States
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    December 21, 2011
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    Posted: April 11, 2012, 11:30 am - IP Logged

    I'll have my lawyer claim the money for me.Iowa insists that your name and town be made public but doesn't require that you attend a press conference,although they will try to convince you that you'll be better off doing the press conference and get it over with.They want all the publicity that they get because its free advertisement for THEM.They really don't care if you get mugged or murdered after they get their free publicity.

    When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; I'm beginning to believe it. ~Clarence Darrow

    There ought to be one day - just one - when there is open season on senators. ~Will Rogers

      brees2012's avatar - animal whale.jpg

      United States
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      March 26, 2012
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      Posted: April 11, 2012, 11:48 am - IP Logged

          I feel bad for the Illinois winner , he/she doesn't have many option to be anonymous .

          Unless his / her lawyer turns in the ticket .  What is the best choice for this person(s)???

        maximumfun's avatar - Lottery-064.jpg

        United States
        Member #124621
        March 16, 2012
        1492 Posts
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        Posted: April 11, 2012, 11:52 am - IP Logged

            I feel bad for the Illinois winner , he/she doesn't have many option to be anonymous .

            Unless his / her lawyer turns in the ticket .  What is the best choice for this person(s)???

        The Illinois winner had options... purchase their tickets NOT in IL (WI?  IN?); NOT buy tickets, or; not redeem this ticket if they decide the trouble that will come with the win is more costly than the win $$$.

        The best choice, to me, will be to claim it and then get outa dodge.

          Avatar
          Seattle, Washington
          United States
          Member #121158
          January 3, 2012
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          Posted: April 11, 2012, 12:20 pm - IP Logged

          I suspect some enterprising lawyer is crafting a lawsuit about this as we speak.  Why should someone in Mass be able to avoid the insanity of lottery madness while someone in another state cannot?  Knowing how disasterous the public attention can be, I'd prefer that lottery winners from all states have the option of remaining annonymous (the public isn't served by forcing a lottery winner to be subjected to the levels of scrutiny & attention the lottery thrusts upon them).  That way, if the lottery winner is an attention whore like 'ol bunky bartlett & happily tells the world they won, then they'll have no one to blame but themselves for the problems that come their way.

            dpoly1's avatar - driver
            PA
            United States
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            October 16, 2008
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            Posted: April 11, 2012, 12:28 pm - IP Logged

            I suspect some enterprising lawyer is crafting a lawsuit about this as we speak.  Why should someone in Mass be able to avoid the insanity of lottery madness while someone in another state cannot?  Knowing how disasterous the public attention can be, I'd prefer that lottery winners from all states have the option of remaining annonymous (the public isn't served by forcing a lottery winner to be subjected to the levels of scrutiny & attention the lottery thrusts upon them).  That way, if the lottery winner is an attention whore like 'ol bunky bartlett & happily tells the world they won, then they'll have no one to blame but themselves for the problems that come their way.

            I Agree!

            dpoly1 - Playing the lottery to save the jobs of those that build, transport, sell & maintain luxury items! -

             

            Eschew Poverty ........... Vote Conservative!

              CDanaT's avatar - tiger avatar_04_hd_pictures_169016.jpg
              TX
              United States
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              January 4, 2012
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              Posted: April 11, 2012, 12:51 pm - IP Logged

              I'll have my lawyer claim the money for me.Iowa insists that your name and town be made public but doesn't require that you attend a press conference,although they will try to convince you that you'll be better off doing the press conference and get it over with.They want all the publicity that they get because its free advertisement for THEM.They really don't care if you get mugged or murdered after they get their free publicity.

              There is a way to get a jumpstart on the bothersome folks who will try and locate you...........Keep your current mailing address for a year or two. Move to a completely new rental location several miles away or out of state. Or have a trusted friend rent a place  in his/her name. Or rent a place FROM a trusted friend.... Already be set up in your new place before the big day you claim. Course if you have younger children that will give you an added issue with schools. Having the Atty as a spokeperson is an option, but the less info stated is more of a challenge for others.

              Stay Positive, Believe and good things will come your way

                OldSchoolPa's avatar - Lottery-057.jpg
                Gurnee, Illinois
                United States
                Member #49731
                February 12, 2007
                842 Posts
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                Posted: April 11, 2012, 3:49 pm - IP Logged

                When I win, I will claim the prize and have a big press conference.  All will see my face, hear my voice and know my name and where I live.  But you see, I would take at least a couple of weeks before I come forward to claim the prize.  During that time, I would meet with my attorney and accountant, set up necessary wealth management accounts, located a rental house (apartment would not be good since I would plan to purchase either a Mazerati or Bentley with my "blow some money" limit and who lives in an apartment that can afford such a car?), and rehearsed my standard response to anyone asking for a handout (why didn't you ask me what you are asking me the day before the drawing?  Then I guess your best bet is to go to the bank you do business with.  Good bye!). 

                Call me a hard ass but I wouldn't have to deal with it for too long since I would be looking to relocate somewhere where the community is gated and hundreds of miles away from Illinois.  I will gladly pay my lump sum tax to Illinois and then head south to a state that is more favorable toward wealthy folks...and warmer.  Anyone want a snowblower for $10? (that is WHEN I win...not now!!!).

                Get MONEY!!! Winning a JACKPOT lottery is all the HOPE and CHANGE I desire!!!  NOW give me MONEY!US Flag

                The guy who won the presidency in 2008 really won the lottery...he is now millions richer, travels in first class style, and even has a staff that would be the envy of the richest Powerball winner (she has a staff of 2). Every night he goes to sleep, he probably plays the close of Dave Chappelle's Show: I'm rich beyatch!

                  OldSchoolPa's avatar - Lottery-057.jpg
                  Gurnee, Illinois
                  United States
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                  February 12, 2007
                  842 Posts
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                  Posted: April 11, 2012, 3:56 pm - IP Logged

                  I suspect some enterprising lawyer is crafting a lawsuit about this as we speak.  Why should someone in Mass be able to avoid the insanity of lottery madness while someone in another state cannot?  Knowing how disasterous the public attention can be, I'd prefer that lottery winners from all states have the option of remaining annonymous (the public isn't served by forcing a lottery winner to be subjected to the levels of scrutiny & attention the lottery thrusts upon them).  That way, if the lottery winner is an attention whore like 'ol bunky bartlett & happily tells the world they won, then they'll have no one to blame but themselves for the problems that come their way.

                  You obviously did not read the part about Illinois where people thought they were playing a legitimate lottery, only to find it was a scam.  I am sure the good folks of Tennessee will agree with that since they had an issue with the RNG being rigged in their pick 3 and pick 4 games.  Corruption reigns supreme in Illinois and I am all for at least seeing the face and reading the name of that winner even if they do claim it in a LLC or trust.  Given the way corruption works in Illinois, if Illinois allowed its winners to remain anonymous like MD and KS, I would not be surprised if Gov. Pat Quinns relatives started getting "lucky"!  So show your face and state your name...then take some of that jackpot and move to a different location.  Besides, who really wants to keep working at the same job and living in the same house that their too small for luxuries paycheck could barely afford them?  I don't see any harm in the winners being made public.  It seems the biggest problem with some winners is THEMSELVES.  Drugs, uncontrolled gambling, and the inability to say NO will ruin anybody, not just lottery jackpot winners.

                  Get MONEY!!! Winning a JACKPOT lottery is all the HOPE and CHANGE I desire!!!  NOW give me MONEY!US Flag

                  The guy who won the presidency in 2008 really won the lottery...he is now millions richer, travels in first class style, and even has a staff that would be the envy of the richest Powerball winner (she has a staff of 2). Every night he goes to sleep, he probably plays the close of Dave Chappelle's Show: I'm rich beyatch!

                    dallascowboyfan's avatar - tiana the-princess-and-the-frog.jpg
                    Oklahoma
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                    November 12, 2009
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                    Posted: April 11, 2012, 4:14 pm - IP Logged

                    Anonymity for me, there are a lot of crazy people out there I remember reading about the lady in Florida years back that won the Florida lottery and people were threatening to kidnap her children from school & daycare. I have two boys I would not want to put there lives in jeopardy.

                    I Love Pink & Green 1908

                      brees2012's avatar - animal whale.jpg

                      United States
                      Member #125182
                      March 26, 2012
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                      Posted: April 11, 2012, 5:19 pm - IP Logged

                         Give the winner an option if he/she wants to put there face in the camera ,

                        that's fine .

                         For those who doesn't want to face the cameras at all , then that's there

                         choice .     Everyone situation is different . 

                       

                        haymaker's avatar - Lottery-012.jpg
                        egg harbor twp.south jersey shore
                        United States
                        Member #112972
                        June 29, 2011
                        3220 Posts
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                        Posted: April 11, 2012, 6:16 pm - IP Logged

                        I suspect some enterprising lawyer is crafting a lawsuit about this as we speak.  Why should someone in Mass be able to avoid the insanity of lottery madness while someone in another state cannot?  Knowing how disasterous the public attention can be, I'd prefer that lottery winners from all states have the option of remaining annonymous (the public isn't served by forcing a lottery winner to be subjected to the levels of scrutiny & attention the lottery thrusts upon them).  That way, if the lottery winner is an attention whore like 'ol bunky bartlett & happily tells the world they won, then they'll have no one to blame but themselves for the problems that come their way.

                        the states will claim its a state"s rights issue and no one can force one state to do what another state does or does not do.

                        Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds    -- Charles Mackay  LL.D.

                          sandia's avatar - disney24
                          TEXAS
                          United States
                          Member #107770
                          March 13, 2011
                          194 Posts
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                          Posted: April 11, 2012, 6:25 pm - IP Logged

                              I feel bad for the Illinois winner , he/she doesn't have many option to be anonymous .

                              Unless his / her lawyer turns in the ticket .  What is the best choice for this person(s)???

                           The whole drama, surrounding the colossal jackpot, brought a very interesting conversation between my colleagues and me. You see, our discussion over lunch went into the territory of anonymity. We reasoned that there is no way, the media would leave the winner/winners of this jackpot to enjoy their respite. Surprisingly, 2 out of the 3 winning states, allowed for such a condition to remain anonymous, being present at the conference but in disguise just like the three lucky amigos from Maryland.

                            Like the headline reads, a large majority would love to collect their loot anonymously and go about their normal lives (how easy getting back to your normal life might be after such a win, is a different scenario). Anyway, some states do not allow anonymity and some, do not even allow you to collect via blind trust.

                            Now the question goes, in light of the events, don't you all agree that a panel discussion has to be established to allow winners from ANY state to remain anonymous, should they wish? I believe that legal proceedings might gear towards such a goal. I do not understand why such an option is not allowed. Yes,  MUSL is somewhat a government agency but, the jackpot increases due to purchase from private purses i.e., the money that we spend on the lottery is already taxed and we get taxed before collecting any winnings. In my opinion, that is where a public interference stops. Once a winner is declared, his.her information should be kept private should they request such. Now, if that request is not honored then, taxes on lotto wins should be abolished. They cannot have it both ways, tax the lotto income, do not ask me to reveal my identity if I do not please to do so. On the other hand, if the tax is abolished, then well......

                             Just my opinion.

                            Coin Toss's avatar - shape barbed.jpg
                            Zeta Reticuli Star System
                            United States
                            Member #30470
                            January 17, 2006
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                            Posted: April 11, 2012, 6:54 pm - IP Logged

                            A few years ago a female pharmacist in Illinois wonn a Mega Millions jackpot.

                            She said that if people knew who she was she would get sued for malpractice by people she never even provided drugs for. Having said that, she hired professional movie make-up people to create a disguise for her and that's the way she went to the press conference.

                            I think it was discussed here on LP.

                            Those who run the lotteries love it when players look for consistency in something that's designed not to have any.

                            Lep

                            There is one and only one 'proven' system, and that is to book the action. No matter the game, let the players pick their own losers.