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Lottery windfalls can buy anything except anonymity

After the Big WinAfter the Big Win: Lottery windfalls can buy anything except anonymity
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Former Canadian lottery winners say lucky ticket holder should prepare for wave of unwanted attention

The hucksters started calling only hours after Brenda Schley's good fortune was announced. 

Strange cars turned up outside her Clearwater, B.C., home. Then strangers began rubbing the 57-year-old for luck.

And that win only involved $1.75 million.

"It's almost scary," says Schley, a year after matching six out of six numbers on a Lotto 6/49 draw. 

"We had to leave the house for about 10 days because the phone was ringing off the hook."

A very public windfall

Schley says she can't imagine the spotlight awaiting the holder of a $50 million winning Lotto Max ticket who stepped forward this week after waiting nearly a year to claim the prize.

(See Winner of $50 million Lotto Max jackpot claims prize just before it expires, Lottery Post, Mar. 12, 2015.)

Like it or not, their days of anonymity are about to end.

"I think people think that they have a choice that they can just say 'I'm not going to tell anyone if I won the money'," Schley says.

"I've heard people say that — but I know that's not the way it works."

In fact, one of the conditions of receiving a prize from the B.C. Lottery Corporation is consenting to the release of your name and photo as the winner of the prize. Similar rules govern other Canadian lotteries. 

"The minute a player hands over his three or five dollars and purchases a lottery ticket, he is agreeing to those conditions," says BCLC's Chris Fairclough.

Lotteries generate an incredible public interest, he says.

"Our job is to pay out the rightful ticket winner and to ensure transparency so that the public — and lottery players — know that there are indeed winners." 

'People know a lot about you'

In the wake of lawsuits and exposés about crooked lottery retailers claiming prizes for themselves, the desire for transparency on behalf of gaming giants is understandable.

But that doesn't make the spotlight any easier to endure, one winner says.

"I would have liked the option for it to be private," says one Vancouver Island winner.

CBC has agreed not to name the woman, who won a million dollars in 2014, and was reluctant to expose herself to publicity and fraudsters again.

Her picture is among dozens on BCLC's website featuring dazed winners struggling to hold up giant cheques overflowing with reams of zeroes.

She says she understands the need to advertise and the public's desire to know, not to mention a lack of sympathy for lottery winners: "But suddenly — people know a lot about you."

Winners offered a choice

By contrast, the licensed operator of the UK National Lottery, Camelot, offers winners the choice of anonymity.

And six U.S. states also allow lottery winners to keep their identities private: Delaware, Maryland, Kansas, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina.

The office of B.C.'s Information and Privacy Commissioner says they received a complaint several years ago about BCLC's use of lottery winners' personal information for marketing purposes. 

They wouldn't comment on the specifics of the case.

In pushing for anonymity, U.S. legislators have argued more than just embarrassment is at stake.

In 2013, a Chicago dry-cleaner was poisoned with cyanide hours after collecting on a $1 million scratch-and-win prize. And a Florida woman was convicted of murdering a man who publicly won a $30 million jackpot in 2006; she befriended him, killed him, buried him in her yard and then took control of his assets.

The lucky bear

Chinese mega-lottery winners have to endure a live televised broadcast of their win. 

But unlike shy Canadians, they can hide behind costumes. That's led to a series of bizarre cheque acceptance ceremonies involving a Panda, Mickey Mouse and a giant yellow bear.

(See Chinese lottery winner claims jackpot in bear costume, Lottery Post, Oct. 14, 2014.)

The cute factor may not be as high, but several Massachusetts lottery winners have also managed to obscure their identities by sending lawyers and accountants to accept prizes on behalf of hastily drawn up legal trusts.

Fairclough doubts that would be possible in British Columbia.

"When someone does purchase a ticket, it's an actual individual that purchases the ticket," he says. "An actual ticket holder must come forward to ensure that they are the legal rightful holder of that ticket before we'll pay it out."

Schley says she doesn't ultimately have a problem with the publicity.

"It's just something you have to learn and learn how to deal with anyway," she says. "People are going to find out anyway."

And even had she dressed as a giant yellow bear, it's doubtful Schley could have kept the win secret in her community — Clearwater has a population of just over 2,300.

But she says her neighbours were never the problem.

Thanks to myturn for the tip.

CBC, Lottery Post Staff

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42 comments. Last comment 2 years ago by Shelby Mustang.
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Original Bey's avatar - Lottery-022.jpg

Bahamas
Member #133462
September 30, 2012
5946 Posts
Offline
Posted: March 12, 2015, 10:29 am - IP Logged

I hated the attention my windfall garnered but here I am in the spotlight again to tell my tale about those scary moments. Now please don't stalk me or rub my Budda Belly for luck. Blue Thinking

"Everything works  ONCE!"

    Elizabeth03's avatar - cat anm.gif
    Nova Scotia
    Canada
    Member #9934
    December 27, 2004
    884 Posts
    Offline
    Posted: March 12, 2015, 10:40 am - IP Logged

    With the publicity from a windfall, you don't want to stay in your neighbourhood, it doesn't make any sense..

      MaximumMillions's avatar - Lottery-013.jpg

      Germany
      Member #164603
      March 8, 2015
      613 Posts
      Offline
      Posted: March 12, 2015, 11:26 am - IP Logged

      And this is exactly why I would try to claim anonymously.

       

      People would not find out because I would move.

        ErikB14's avatar - Lottery-049.jpg
        New Member
        Clifton NJ
        United States
        Member #164641
        March 9, 2015
        14 Posts
        Offline
        Posted: March 12, 2015, 11:40 am - IP Logged

        Pedro Quedaza the powerball winner of $338 million still live in town,after two years of his windfall he still drive the same car and nothing bad had ever happened to him or his family.

          MaximumMillions's avatar - Lottery-013.jpg

          Germany
          Member #164603
          March 8, 2015
          613 Posts
          Offline
          Posted: March 12, 2015, 11:57 am - IP Logged

          Pedro Quedaza the powerball winner of $338 million still live in town,after two years of his windfall he still drive the same car and nothing bad had ever happened to him or his family.

          Yet.

            Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
            Chief Bottle Washer
            New Jersey
            United States
            Member #1
            May 31, 2000
            23273 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: March 12, 2015, 12:06 pm - IP Logged

            Yet.

            lol!

             

            Check the State Lottery Report Card
            What grade did your lottery earn?

             

            Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
            Help eliminate computerized drawings!

              hearsetrax's avatar - 0118

              United States
              Member #52345
              May 21, 2007
              2659 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: March 12, 2015, 12:18 pm - IP Logged

                shadowlady's avatar - Trek UFPSYM1.gif

                United States
                Member #154198
                April 7, 2014
                69 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: March 12, 2015, 12:43 pm - IP Logged

                Pedro Quedaza the powerball winner of $338 million still live in town,after two years of his windfall he still drive the same car and nothing bad had ever happened to him or his family.

                I was reading news stories, that he skipped out on his rent, and owed a bunch of money in child support.  But apparently he did reconcile with his girlfriend after the lawsuit, where she wanted half of the money, claiming the ticket had been bought with joint money.

                  music*'s avatar - nw bookeep.jpg
                  Happy California
                  United States
                  Member #157856
                  August 2, 2014
                  1522 Posts
                  Offline
                  Posted: March 12, 2015, 12:57 pm - IP Logged

                   I found this on You Tube...  " The hunt is on for U.S. Lottery Winners"  from the Press Association. When I win then everyone will be looking for me. I might be able to request "minimal publicity" here in California.Coffee

                    wizeguy's avatar - animaniacs04

                    United States
                    Member #15143
                    May 10, 2005
                    414 Posts
                    Offline
                    Posted: March 12, 2015, 1:34 pm - IP Logged

                    I'd like to see all state lotteries adopt an anonymity option!Thumbs Up

                      MaximumMillions's avatar - Lottery-013.jpg

                      Germany
                      Member #164603
                      March 8, 2015
                      613 Posts
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                      Posted: March 12, 2015, 1:40 pm - IP Logged

                      Scammers are waiting and plotting I'm sure, better to give them as little help as possible.

                        Scratch$'s avatar - sm lottery.jpg

                        United States
                        Member #158848
                        September 5, 2014
                        294 Posts
                        Offline
                        Posted: March 12, 2015, 1:42 pm - IP Logged

                        Pedro Quedaza the powerball winner of $338 million still live in town,after two years of his windfall he still drive the same car and nothing bad had ever happened to him or his family.

                        Abraham Shakespeare won the Florida lotto in 2006, and was murdered in 2009 by a woman he didn't know before he won the lottery. She was able to know who he was and target him, thanks to the lottery commission's mandatory publicity. There's a video on YouTube where Shakespeare states that he'd like to have his old life back, so he could walk down the street without people knowing who he was. He apparently couldn't go anywhere in public without people recognizing him and hounding him for money.

                        Scratchers ~ Cash 5 ~ Powerball ~ Mega Millions

                          Scratch$'s avatar - sm lottery.jpg

                          United States
                          Member #158848
                          September 5, 2014
                          294 Posts
                          Offline
                          Posted: March 12, 2015, 1:45 pm - IP Logged

                          Scammers are waiting and plotting I'm sure, better to give them as little help as possible.

                          Thumbs Up

                          Yep! You could ask Abraham Shakespeare about that, if only he hadn't been murdered for his lottery winnings!

                          Scratchers ~ Cash 5 ~ Powerball ~ Mega Millions

                            MaximumMillions's avatar - Lottery-013.jpg

                            Germany
                            Member #164603
                            March 8, 2015
                            613 Posts
                            Offline
                            Posted: March 12, 2015, 1:52 pm - IP Logged

                            Thumbs Up

                            Yep! You could ask Abraham Shakespeare about that, if only he hadn't been murdered for his lottery winnings!

                            People here always say it's very unlikely, but I don't believe that at all. Identity theft is already a huge problem, that's without being a confirmed halfbillionaire. Look at the Sony data leak and how many people already ran into problems with that.