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Why you should try to remain anonymous if you ever win a jackpot!

Topic closed. 35 replies. Last post 8 years ago by chasingadream.

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NY
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October 16, 2005
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Posted: September 10, 2008, 1:56 am - IP Logged

Changing your name might work, and even be a practical way to maintain anonymity for a modest jackpot. There's one huge risk in doing so before claiming the jackpot, however. If your picture ends up being publicized, and the lottery will want to do that, people who know you may notice the "wrong" name you're using. Especially for a large jackpot, that could easily result in publicity you would otherwise have avoided. That could lead to additional scrutiny by the media, that would easily connect you to the former name you were planning on using again.

The reality is that becoming hard to find is nearly as good as claiming anonymously, and it's a fairly easy option in every state.

    TigerAngel's avatar - tiger andfairy.jpg
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    Posted: September 10, 2008, 2:40 am - IP Logged

    I don't know what all the hulabalu is about. When I win big I will go on the local TV news and give my "acceptance speech" which I prepared already (it's around here somewhere) and it goes something like this:

                                  To my friends and family and all the people that supported me along the way I say to you a heart felt thank you and a few of you will find a little something extra in your Christmas stocking this year.

                                  And to  those that weren't supportive of me,  I say to you-- nah nah na nah nah!!!

    Blue Angel  "if you can hold it in your mind, you can hold it in your hand"

      Elizabeth03's avatar - cat anm.gif
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      Posted: September 10, 2008, 2:49 am - IP Logged

       If I won, I'd like to remain anonymous, but in Canada, the lottery corporation wants you to tell the media, which is a drag, because then  maybe people will start knocking on your door, looking for money from you!

      You would have to move anyway after the publicity.

       

      Which I gladly would because I am not happy with the neighborhood that I live in, and want to move away anyway!Party

        AlecWest's avatar - alec
        Vader, Washington
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        Posted: September 10, 2008, 6:50 am - IP Logged

        What the lottery wants to do and what they can do are often times at odds.  Only a handful of states require photo shoots or press conferences.  Most states require the release of a name ... but will also allow winners to redeem tickets by Registered Mail.  If a person wins a large jackpot in such a state, it might require the assistance of an attorney to "remind" lottery agencies of their legal limitations.

        I think, in the vast majority of cases, that lottery commissions rely on "winner euphoria" to cloud a winner's judgement.  And I suspect they would use every trick in the book to convince winners that publicity is a good thing.  One lottery commission rep told me that they "counsel" lottery winners to do a  press conference, saying, "Doing a press conference helps take the media heat off of you."  Jeez Louise (sigh).  Media attention is the last of a winner's worries.  The real worry is the attention given by those who SEE AND HEAR the media attention (friends, relatives, coworkers, businesses, charities, confidence racketeers and other criminals, ex-spouses, etc., etc.).  FWIW, I read one "lottery horror story" article suggesting that one of the first people lottery winners hear from is a "former spouse."  And you can guess what such a person would have on their minds.

        I live on the border between Washington and Oregon and buy lottery tickets in both states.  If I won a Washington lottery jackpot, I'd have an attorney acting as a trustee claim the ticket for a blind trust.  If I won an Oregon lottery jackpot, I'd legally change my name, redeem the ticket by Registered Mail, then legally change my name back.  I'd NEVER redeem a lottery ticket "in person" unless it was a "legal" requirement to do so.  Even in states like Kansas that mandate winner anonimity, a big unclaimed jackpot would attract media attention.  Local media entities and lottery-related publications might dispatch "stringer" reporters who just sit in the lottery commission office lobby and wait (like vultures) for someone to walk in the door, walk up to the redemption window, and announce they're claiming the jackpot.  Cameras and microphones would sprout like weeds, guaranteed.  And, if contacted by telephone with public-relations questions, I'd tell lottery commissions that my attorney has advised me to respond "NO COMMENT" to all such questions.

        Regards -- J. Alec West

          AlecWest's avatar - alec
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          Posted: September 10, 2008, 7:33 am - IP Logged

          I don't know what all the hulabalu is about. When I win big I will go on the local TV news and give my "acceptance speech" which I prepared already (it's around here somewhere) and it goes something like this:

                                        To my friends and family and all the people that supported me along the way I say to you a heart felt thank you and a few of you will find a little something extra in your Christmas stocking this year.

                                        And to  those that weren't supportive of me,  I say to you-- nah nah na nah nah!!!

          Pardon me for saying this ... but your first sentence above is spot-on accurate.  Most people DON'T know what all the hulabalu is about.  And lottery commissions are counting on it.  They have nothing to lose and everything to gain (public relations wise) if a winner voluntarily agrees to make a public spectacle of themselves.  They won't tell you that, in the immediate future, media entities will post your photo and every PR-value word you say - and that everybody who sees/hears that coverage will know you are a rich person (including businesses, charities, friends, relatives, coworkers, confidence racketeers and other criminals, former spouses, etc., etc.).  And, they won't tell you that, over the long term, these media entities (and lottery commissions themselves) will keep that story alive on their websites.

          In fact, if you look at the "media" pages on most lottery commission websites, the ONLY people featured are those who made public spectacles of themselves - unless their "stories" turned into public relations nightmares like the Jack Whittaker story mentioned in the first post of this thread.  The "nightmares" end up on YouTube (grin).

          To each their own, though.  But for me, there won't be any "acceptance speeches" or other such stuff.  It'll be a simple matter of "Show me the money" and "goodbye."

          P.S.  FWIW, if a person is unlucky enough to win a jackpot in a state requiring photo shoots or press conferences, there is STILL a way they can retain their anonimity.  First, legally change your name.  Secondly, a day or so before the shoot/conference, visit a styling salon that does "extreme makeovers" - making you look NOTHING like what you really look like (grin).  For example, if you wear glasses, get contact lenses.  If you don't wear glasses, buy a pair with clear glass lenses.  Also, if it's a press conference, remember that you might be mandated to "attend" but are not mandated to have a "helpful and friendly attitude."  Frown a lot (grin).  Give brief unrevealing answers to their questions:

          Q - What do you plan to do with the money?

          A - I won't know until I see my financial advisor.

           

          Q - How did your family react when you told them?

          A - I'm unmarried, my parents are both deceased, and I have no brothers or sisters.

           

          Q - Could you smile for the cameras?

          A - I had dental work earlier this morning and my mouth/lips are numb.

          In short, do whatever it takes to make yourself a "non-story" that will have little if any airplay or newspaper space.  Then, after the ordeal is over, go back to the salon and have them "reverse" your extreme makeover.  And then, legally change your name back to your real name.

          Ragards -- J. Alec West

            AlecWest's avatar - alec
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            Posted: September 10, 2008, 9:36 am - IP Logged

            P.S. to my last post regarding press conferences.  Actually, if I was ever required to do a press conference, I'd do the name change and makeover as suggested.  But I'd also tell the lottery commission that I'd bring my attorney along with me to act as my spokesperson.  And, I'd have the attorney go to the press podium first thing and read the following statement:

            My client is mandated by state law to submit to a press conference.  In compliance with that law, he is here.  However, my client wishes to retain as much anonimity as possible - and I've advised him to answer all public relations questions with 'NO COMMENT'.

            Q - Mr. Smith (after my name change, hehe), what do you plan to do with your winnings?

            A - (attorney stepping up to the podium) My client has no comment.  Next question?

            ... and so on and so on.

            Regards -- J. Alec West

              DC81's avatar - batman39
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              Posted: September 10, 2008, 3:03 pm - IP Logged

              My "make over" would likely just be some sun glasses to hide my eyes, a long wig (with a baseball cap) and a fake facial hair or a beard, different color than my real hair of course and a new shirt that no one has seen me wear before, I don't think pants would be an issue since they'd just be jeans. I'd probably make a character out of it, though make sure to do it in a manner that wouldn't attract attention. I don't think there's a law against that is there? On the other hand, I probably wouldn't want to even be at the press conference if I can just have the attorney go and do it all. Hopefully it'd be easy to remove the lawyer from being the trustee afterward so it'd just be me on the trust.

              I wonder how much the lawyer would want because I'm sure that when he/she finds out they'll want to charge a higher fee than what they'd normally would charge to set up a trust and everything. I guess perhaps it'd be better to discuss setting up the trust first, before revealing why you want to do it.. Also, think they'd wait until they get the money to be paid? There, they'd probably want more than the usual. Naturally you'd have to pay them for their time and probably gas also.

              You can't predict random.

                JackpotWanna's avatar - squiz

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                Posted: September 10, 2008, 10:18 pm - IP Logged

                I wish new york had that anonymous option.  Sadly Winners are left to fend for themselves. 

                  AlecWest's avatar - alec
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                  Posted: September 11, 2008, 8:46 am - IP Logged

                  My "make over" would likely just be some sun glasses to hide my eyes, a long wig (with a baseball cap) and a fake facial hair or a beard, different color than my real hair of course and a new shirt that no one has seen me wear before, I don't think pants would be an issue since they'd just be jeans. I'd probably make a character out of it, though make sure to do it in a manner that wouldn't attract attention. I don't think there's a law against that is there? On the other hand, I probably wouldn't want to even be at the press conference if I can just have the attorney go and do it all. Hopefully it'd be easy to remove the lawyer from being the trustee afterward so it'd just be me on the trust.

                  I wonder how much the lawyer would want because I'm sure that when he/she finds out they'll want to charge a higher fee than what they'd normally would charge to set up a trust and everything. I guess perhaps it'd be better to discuss setting up the trust first, before revealing why you want to do it.. Also, think they'd wait until they get the money to be paid? There, they'd probably want more than the usual. Naturally you'd have to pay them for their time and probably gas also.

                  I'm lucky enough to live in an area (border between two states) where neither photo shoots nor press conferences are required.  However, I'm certain that both Oregon/Washington lottery commissions would not "volunteer" that information ... and in fact would try to capitalize on winner "euphoria" and steer me toward making a public spectacle of myself.

                  I suspect the first thing I'd do is call up my local bar association referral service and ask to be referred to an attorney who knows lottery law.  First visit on such a referral is capped to $35 ... and I suspect other state referral services have a similar scenario.  I'd give him/her a list of questions to ask the lottery commission ... and ask the attorney to call them up, informing them of "representing" the interests of a jackpot winner.  I suspect that attorney involvement would temper the lottery commission's zeal to a certain degree (grin) ... and they'd be very careful not to give him/her any evasive or BS answers.

                  In Oregon/Washington, I already know the answer regarding "blind trust" formation.  In Washington, you can do it that way.  But not in Oregon which requires a "natural person" (their wording) to redeem the ticket - or group of persons, all of whom would have their name and city/state of residence revealed.  That's where the legal name change (prior to ticket redemption) would come into play.

                  Anyhoo, everybody has their own "comfort level" and their own level of desire to remain anonymous.  And everyone should pursue their own needs.  Personally, I'd take my anonimity VERY seriously and would pull out all the stops (legal stops) to achieve it.  These methods may seem like overkill to some people ... and, they might be overkill ... but they only have to be done "once" (assuming you take a cash-option payout).  Afterward, it's a simple matter of keeping quiet about it.  For some people, especially those who plan to "live large" - buying mansions, yachts, private jets, etc., etc. - keeping "quiet" about it would be a difficult task.  For me and others who DON'T plan to live large, it would be a piece of cake.

                  BTW, here's a thought.  Almost every advisor says that, beyond a tax attorney, the first person a lottery winner should see is an independent CFP (certified financial planner) - to map out a reasonable estate plan that would allow the winnings to last a lifetime.  But, a number of community colleges and business schools offer courses to become a CFP.  Most of these courses are of short duration since you're only trying to get a certificate of completion (not even an Associates Degree).  Completing the course qualifies you to sit for a board certified exam.  Pass the exam and you are a CFP yourself (grin).  Some schools, like Boston University, allow students to take the course "online" at their own pace and in the privacy of their own homes.

                  Point is, besides being armed with the knowledge to chart your own financial future, it's a fact that many CFPs earn a pretty darned good living.  Not that you'd want to put up a shingle and go into business (grin).  But, if you got a bigger home, a newer car, or otherwise increased your lifestyle level to a point where people noticed and started asking questions, you could always show these people your framed certificate of course completion - and the letter from the CFP board proving that you are a bonafide CFP - telling them that you're a CFP and earn a darned good living (grin).  How could they doubt you, hehehe?

                  P.S.  Regarding your question, "I don't think there's a law against that is there?"  Nope.  There's no law that says you can't do an extreme makeover prior to redeeming a ticket (grin).  And, there's no law that says you can't legally change your name prior to redeeming a ticket.  For that matter, you could even go so far as to go to a town on the other side of your state - renting a room in a seedy hotel (grin) - and taking your invoice to the department of motor vehicles, having them change the address on your driver license to that address.  There's no law against having two or more residences (grin).  That way, if you're John Smith of Ann Arbor, Michigan ... and change your name to Bill White ... and change your residence to Detroit, Michigan ... the lottery commission would tell the press that the winner was Bill White of Detroit.  Afterward, change your name back to John Smith and change your driver licence back to Ann Arbor ... and no one would be the wiser.

                  Regards -- J. Alec West

                    AlecWest's avatar - alec
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                    Posted: September 11, 2008, 9:28 am - IP Logged

                    DC81,

                    Regarding your comment, "I'd probably make a character out of it, though make sure to do it in a manner that wouldn't attract attention."

                    Funny you should mention that, hehe.  I wouldn't do this myself (snicker) but it occurred to me that there's no law against poor people - even extremely poor people - from winning a lottery jackpot.  About two weeks before redemption day, I'd quit my job.  Then, I'd stop shaving, cutting my hair, showering, and shampooing ... going to a Goodwill store to buy the most raggedy clothes/shoes I could find.  I'd show up at the press conference looking every bit gnarly and disheveled - put a cross and sullen expression on my face - and answer every public relations question with "None of your (expletive) business."

                    How much airplay or newspaper space do you think would be devoted to such a press conference (snicker)?

                    Regards -- J. Alec West

                      AlecWest's avatar - alec
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                      Posted: September 11, 2008, 10:31 am - IP Logged

                      P.S. to my last ... again, tongue FIRMLY in cheek (grin).  If one of the public relations questions asked was, "What's the first thing you'll do when you get the money?" I'd answer, "I'll probably go to a small market, buy myself a bottle of fortified wine, go back to my rented hotel room and get totally plastered."  Ooooo ... talk about negative PR value, hehehe.

                      Regards -- J. Alec West

                        DC81's avatar - batman39
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                        Posted: September 11, 2008, 5:34 pm - IP Logged

                        LOL Nice.

                        Yeah, becoming a CFP myself would certainly be one of the things on my "to do" list after winning. If just not only for a good cover but so as to at least help develop a firmer grasp on things. There's no way I'd let someone else take control my finances and make decisions on my behalf without my actual involvement. I think that's another problem a lot of winners who end up broke have. They don't want the responsibility and take a mostly hands off approach to it and just spend spend spend while some guy they're probably over paying is out there doing things and taking risks with their money that either don't need to be taken or are just bad deals. Just because one has a piece of paper that qualifies them to call themselves something doesn't mean they're actually good at doing it. Just look at all the bad doctors, lawyers, teachers, journalist and well every field has a lot of duds, not to mention a lack of ethics some from every level skill have. Just don't need the person who's not only bad at the job itself but is also ethically challenged as well, in the case of a CFP that would either be that they're stealing from you or that despite losing money in a investment, they keep throwing in more and more of your money into some failed investment since they don't care as it isn't their money, at least someone who is at least somewhat ethical might actually care enough stop the bleeding quickly so you don't lose a lot or go broke. On the other end you might get the one that's good at their job but also does things that could end up causing you problems. But if you get the one who isn't good at the job and isn't ethically sound then you're probably going to be doubly screwed. Of course that might be a good reason to make sure to look around and consider multiple people. But again, it might just be easier to actually educate yourself and work with a couple others to share ideas, or just do it all by yourself if need be. Then you only have one person to blame and can't pass your failings off on someone else.

                        I wrote a lot more than I intended there. Hopefully it makes sense.

                        You can't predict random.

                          AlecWest's avatar - alec
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                          Posted: September 11, 2008, 6:29 pm - IP Logged

                          Makes sense to me.  FWIW, I've often thought of that when people use attorneys as trustees of a blind trust.  A degree in law only gives a person the right to take a bar exam ... and passing the bar only confers the right to practice law.  Neither establishes that the lawyer is reputable (grin).  Imagine turning over the winning ticket to a multimillion dollar jackpot ... and a week later, finding your lawyer's office vacant ... with mail being forwarded to a villa in the Swiss Alps (grin).

                          I think the trick there is to find an attorney who has an established "track record" of handling trust accounts for lottery winners - especially if they've been mentioned in the media often as doing so.  Still, there are no ironclad guarantees of trusting anyone.  Bringing anyone else into your "circle" of advisors requires a leap of faith.  Scary, huh?

                          Regards -- J. Alec West

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                            Posted: September 12, 2008, 3:27 pm - IP Logged

                            Sad, sad story.She could have made her life worth living helping others with that money but...unfortunate things happen.

                             

                            I think it's wrong for that boy's father to blame her for his son's death.His son had a mind of his own and people need to stop the blame game.

                              mylollipop's avatar - Trek STLOGO6.png

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                              Posted: September 28, 2008, 12:00 am - IP Logged

                              How much do you have to pay a lawyer to set up a blind trust?  Doesn't the  lawyer control the trust?