‘A Huge Mistake’: NH Lotto Winner Sues for Anonymity

NASHUA, N.H. (CN) – A New Hampshire woman who hit this month’s $560 million Powerball jackpot asked a judge Monday to keep her identity secret.

Represented by the law firm Shaheen & Gordon in Concord, the winner of the Jan. 6 lottery drawing says her privacy is at risk because of “a huge mistake.”

Identifying herself only as Jane Doe, the winner says she wrote out her name on the back of the ticket she bought from Reed’s Ferry Market in a panic to secure it.

Though she had merely been following the directions of the New Hampshire Lottery Commission, Doe says an attorney advised her shortly thereafter that she could create a trust to collect her winnings anonymously.

Now that the ticket is signed, Doe’s privacy options are limited. Under New Hampshire’s Right to Know law, the Lottery Commission will be forced to disclose records identifying the winner if a request for such information is filed.

Such requests are common after any drawing, the commission disclosed, to say nothing of the fact that the jackpot at issue is the seventh-highest in lotto history.

Charlie McIntyre, executive director of the state lottery, says their hands are tied.

“While we respect this player’s desire to remain anonymous, state statutes and lottery rules clearly dictate protocols,” McIntyre said in a statement.

McIntyre conceded that a $560 million Powerball jackpot can change the winner’s life, but said the procedures at issue were put in place “for the security and integrity of the lottery, our players and our games.”

“After consulting with the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office on this matter, we have been advised that the lottery must proceed in accordance its rules and by state law in processing this claim like any other,” McIntyre added.

Shielding her name in Hillsborough County Superior Court South, Doe describes herself as a lifelong New Hampshire resident who has no plans to leave the Granite State.

“She intends to contribute a portion of her winnings to a charitable foundation, so that they may do good in the world,” the complaint states. “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.’”

Going on to recount a half-dozen instances of lotto winners who faced “life-threatening consequences” after their identities were disclosed, Doe notes that one winner in Georgia was killed just two years ago in a home invasion.

With bucolic New Hampshire at the forefront of the nation’s opioid crisis, Doe says the size of the prize in her case enhances her risks.

Doe has big plans for the half-billion-dollar ticket but says “time is of the essence.”

“Without the ticket being redeemed, interest is being lost to the petitioner on a daily basis,” the complaint states. “The ticket needs to be redeemed within one year.”

She notes that the state lotto commission has told her she can’t white-out her name from the back of the ticket, as any alteration would invalidate it.

If the commission will not grant her an exception on the Wite-Out, she wants her identifying information redacted from any information release the commission must make under the Right to Know law.

Steven Gordon, an attorney for Doe at Shaheen & Gordon, has not responded to a request for comment.

 

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