NASHUA, N.H. (CN) – The mystery winner of the $560 million Powerball jackpot can remain anonymous, a judge ruled Monday, saying the New Hampshire woman’s right to privacy outweighs public interests.
Jane Doe, as the winner had identified herself in a Jan. 29 complaint, said she had been in a panic when the winning numbers were announced on Jan. 6. Following instructions from the New Hampshire Lottery Commission’s website, Doe signed the back of her ticket with her name, phone number and address.
She learned from attorneys subsequently, however, that New Hampshire would in turn treat her right to privacy as forfeited under the state’s Right to Know law.
The commission said it would have to disclose records identifying Doe if requested, and that any attempt Doe might take to white-out her name on the back of the ticket would invalidate it. Indeed, the commission has already received numerous requests in the intervening two months.
Ruling from the Hillsborough County Court on Monday, Judge Temple noted that the state is not the only one already being pestered. In addition to deluge of requests being fielded by Doe’s attorneys at the firm Shaheen & Gordon, the market in Merrimack where Doe bought the ticket has been inundated as well.
Temple said Reeds Ferry Market received a $75,000 award for its role in the jackpot, and that it has been bombarded by money demands, with one caller even going so far as to ask that the store to buy him a new home.
“The court has no doubts whatsoever that should Ms. Doe’s identity be revealed, she will be subject to an alarming amount of harassment, solicitation, and other unwanted communications,” Temple wrote.
The New Hampshire Lottery had argued that allowing Doe to remain anonymous would erode trust in the lottery.
“While we were expecting a different outcome and believed the state had a strong argument, we respect the court’s decision,” Charlie McIntyre, director of the state lottery, said in a statement Monday. “That said, we will consult with the Attorney General’s Office to determine appropriate next steps regarding the case.”
Temple, who already agreed to let Doe collect her winnings through the Good Karma Family Trust of 2018 several weeks earlier, refused meanwhile to let Doe keep her hometown a secret.
Doe had to provide the winning ticket, a photo ID and her Social Security number as proof of her eligibility, and the ticket has been held in a secure location while the parties awaited today’s decision.
Once taxes were deducted last week, Doe’s trust collected more than $264 million. Attorneys for the winner have said she plans to donate between $25 million to $50 million during her lifetime, beginning with donations of $150,000 to Girls Inc. and $33,000 apiece to three chapters of End 68 Hours of Hunger.