Are Lottery Winners Required to Reveal Their Identities?
Brian White | October 14, 2020 | Texas Laws
Just about everyone has dreamed of winning the lottery. Some would quit their jobs and never work another day in their life while others say they would give the money away. The truth, however, is that for many lottery winners, the publicity and fortune can end up feeling more like a curse than a blessing.
The internet abounds with tales of lottery winners who either went bankrupt, committed suicide, or were even murdered. Some lottery winners have been assaulted by friends and family members after being denied a cut of the winnings. Because of the possible negative outcomes after winning the lottery, some people wish they could remain anonymous. One woman in New Hampshire even sued for the right to remain unknown after winning the lottery (it was determined she could).
Interestingly, New Hampshire is one of several states where individuals can remain anonymous after winning the lottery, by claiming their winnings after forming a trust.
Other States Where Lottery Winners Can Remain Anonymous
Because of the unwanted attention some lottery winners feel they get after they claim their prize, more and more states are passing legislation where winners can hide their identities and still claim their winnings—without forming a trust.
The list of states includes:
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
Other states are at some point in the process of considering whether or not to allow residents to remain anonymous if they win the lottery. Legislatures in Arizona along with Minnesota, Oregon, and Massachusetts are considering legislation that would protect lottery winners, while Virginia recently passed a law that makes it possible for winners of $10 million or more to keep their identities hidden.
Of all the states that have weighed the possibility of anonymity for lottery winners, at least two, Arkansas and Connecticut, have decided not to.
Issues of Transparency
As more stories of lottery winners regretting their windfall come to light, it might seem surprising that more states aren’t choosing to follow in the footsteps of Texas and others and allow residents to keep their names under wraps.
Some cite a lack of transparency as the reason to share the names of winners. One Arizona official noted that knowing real individuals were winning the lottery was crucial to the “integrity” of the games run by the state.
Know the Rules in Your State
Before you even decide to play the lottery, it is probably best to know the rules in your state. Luckily, in Texas, winners have the choice to go public with their winnings or remain anonymous and try to continue living with relative normalcy.
Other states require you to reveal your identity if you win a certain amount while some might give you a period of anonymity but require your name to be made public later on.
However, if you do win, you could also learn a lesson from the woman in New Hampshire who sued for the right to remain anonymous. Judges in the state decided she had a right to privacy and there is always the possibility a lawsuit could be decided in your favor if you ever find yourself in the same situation.
It is also wise to make sure you surround yourself with people you can trust and will have your best interest in mind if you win the lottery.
Finally, trusts and similar financial tools and legal entities might be a good place to put your winnings. If you can create a certain degree of separation between you and your money it might help keep you anonymous and keep people from coming out of the woodwork looking for a handout.
Don’t wait to decide what you will do until after you win the lottery. If you play regularly, have a plan so you can follow through, keep yourself safe, and enjoy your winnings.