The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 07-16-2007, 10:04 AM
Gary "Wombat" Robson Gary "Wombat" Robson is offline
Vombatus Moderatus
Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Montana, U.S.A.
Posts: 9,444
Can you win the lottery anonymously?

In this thread, the following statement was made:
Quote:
Originally Posted by ivylass
I certainly would not tell the world I'd won.
Is this even possible?

Having the money from winning the lottery would be a cool thing, but the actual act of winning would put you on an awful lot of lists. There was a short article in Forbes magazine once about me and a company I'd started. I thought it was marvelous at first. Then the calls began. Sometimes dozens of them in a day. Stock brokers, "investment counselors," people with business ideas, salesmen, insurance reps, you name it. They all wanted a piece of my (nonexistent) money. At first, I politely explained that all of my money was tied up in this company I'd started and I didn't have any to invest. Then I started just saying "I'm not interested" over and over until they hung up (the futures brokers from NYC were the worst--a number of them said "fuck you idiot" before hanging up--and I'd sometimes get five or ten calls from the same firm). I finally started hanging up as soon as I found out who they were. This went on for months.

I believe the lotteries in all the states reserve the right to use your name and photograph in their advertising. I can't even imagine having a public announcement that I'd won $10 million or more. The circling vultures would make life pretty miserable.

So is it actually possible to create an alias or a DBA or a dummy corporation, have the check sent there, and avoid publicity? Is there any way to win and not have your name announced?
__________________
Everything in moderation!
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 07-16-2007, 10:08 AM
Philster Philster is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
You must be indetified. You can skip the press conference and related formal media attention the state would like to coordinate for PR reasons, but the public has an absolute right to know who won. The lottery is state-run and the matters of the lottery are matters of public record.

You can lay low, but you won't be anonymous. Nationally, it might keep things toned down, but locally you are 'out there'.

Last edited by Philster; 07-16-2007 at 10:08 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 07-16-2007, 10:18 AM
zamboniracer zamboniracer is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Above the Uecker seats.
Posts: 4,723
IAAL but this is not my field and this is not legal advice, but I recall newspaper accounts where lottery winners were identified only by the lawyer who said he represented the XYZ Trust which owned the winning ticket. I surmise that the XYZ Trust was a newly created entity, complete with proper Federal tax ID number, whose beneficiaries were the people or person who owned the winning ticket and who wanted to remain anonymous to the general public. Such persons will have to report the lottery earnings as income on the appropriate tax return so they won't be anonymous to the Fed/State tax authorities, but they're shielded from the prying eyes of every one else.

Last edited by zamboniracer; 07-16-2007 at 10:19 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 07-16-2007, 10:25 AM
bordelond bordelond is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philster
You must be indetified. You can skip the press conference and related formal media attention the state would like to coordinate for PR reasons, but the public has an absolute right to know who won. The lottery is state-run and the matters of the lottery are matters of public record.

You can lay low, but you won't be anonymous. Nationally, it might keep things toned down, but locally you are 'out there'.
You know, thinking about this, the Powerball gets won several times a year. Usually it's a 6-figure jackpot ... $20 million here, $40 million there.

Well, these winners are not household names. The press conferences, if they are even held, don't make the evening news. Is it even necessary to jump through hoops to remain anonymous if you "only" win a few (or a few dozen) million? Or are all these $20 million winners hip to the trust-fund ruse, and now it's done routinely?

The PR game seems to change when someone wins an all-time jackpot. That person becomes a minor celebrity for a week or so. But even then, they are forgotten quickly by the public at large. I'm sure shysters don't forget, however.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 07-16-2007, 10:26 AM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
You can file a Freedom of Information Act request to find out who's won lately. I don't know if that can be affected by forming trusts or corporations or anything, but a nosy friend of ours did it when we all heard somebody in my parents' church had won several thousand. (It wasn't who we suspected!)
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 07-16-2007, 10:27 AM
Colophon Colophon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Winners of the UK National Lottery can and do choose not to be identified. Plus you don't have to pay tax on the winnings, and you get it as one big lump, not a crapola 25k-a-year deal. Having read that other thread about US lotteries, I'm surprised anyone enters them!

Last edited by Colophon; 07-16-2007 at 10:31 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 07-16-2007, 10:48 AM
Szlater Szlater is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by Colophon
Winners of the UK National Lottery can and do choose not to be identified.
Does The Sun still have the 5000 reward for those who reveal the names of big prize winners?
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 07-16-2007, 10:50 AM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: 847 mi. from Cecil
Posts: 28,800
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philster
You must be indetified. You can skip the press conference and related formal media attention the state would like to coordinate for PR reasons, but the public has an absolute right to know who won. The lottery is state-run and the matters of the lottery are matters of public record.

You can lay low, but you won't be anonymous. Nationally, it might keep things toned down, but locally you are 'out there'.
This is incorrect. There are three states that allow winners to remain anonymous. From the Powerball website:
Quote:
All but three states (DE, KS, ND) have laws that require the lottery to release the name and city of residence to anyone who asks. One state (SC) will keep your name secret if you request it, but if someone files a Freedom of Information Act request, you may have to file a plea with the judge to deny it.
So in at least Delaware, Kansas and North Dakota, winners may remain anonymous.

Last edited by Fear Itself; 07-16-2007 at 10:50 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 07-16-2007, 05:18 PM
Cunctator Cunctator is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Bowral, NSW, Australia
Posts: 10,176
You can here. Winners have the option of remaining anonymous. Obviously their bank will know. And they eventually have to tell tax office because they have to report the earnings that the prize money will generate. But they're not under any obligation to publicise their win.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 07-17-2007, 02:18 AM
Walloon Walloon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: America's Dairyland
Posts: 12,780
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zsofia
You can file a Freedom of Information Act request to find out who's won lately.
The FOIA is a federal law about federal records, and the records of entitities contracting with the federal government.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 07-17-2007, 02:19 AM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: San Jose
Posts: 22,594
Hmm, anyone know about CA?
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 07-17-2007, 02:23 AM
ParentalAdvisory ParentalAdvisory is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
If the sum were large enough, it might be worth it to change your name fast before the deadline of claiming the prize, then come forward.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 07-17-2007, 02:39 AM
si_blakely si_blakely is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by Szlater
Does The Sun still have the 5000 reward for those who reveal the names of big prize winners?
I have a plan for dealing with this (should I win the lottery with the ticket I don't ever buy).

On realising that I have hit the big money, i'd ask the manager to call all the staff in. Then I would tell them that if my name does not hit the papers for 12 months, they all get 10000. Also, that if I find out that someone from the store has sold my details to a paper, I will buy the store just for the pleasure of firing them, possibly repeatedly.

It's fun to dream...

Si
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 07-17-2007, 12:07 PM
Gary "Wombat" Robson Gary "Wombat" Robson is offline
Vombatus Moderatus
Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Montana, U.S.A.
Posts: 9,444
Quote:
Originally Posted by bordelond
Well, these winners are not household names. The press conferences, if they are even held, don't make the evening news. Is it even necessary to jump through hoops to remain anonymous if you "only" win a few (or a few dozen) million?
I would be primarily concerned about the sales people who religiously scan the news for anyone with extra money that might want to buy investments, real estate, expensive cars, yachts, and so forth. Given the experience I had, it must be horrible for someone who's listed as winning a few million.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 07-17-2007, 12:12 PM
Ludovic Ludovic is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: America's Wing
Posts: 23,261
Quote:
Originally Posted by InvisibleWombat
(the futures brokers from NYC were the worst--a number of them said "fuck you idiot" before hanging up--and I'd sometimes get five or ten calls from the same firm).
Once I got a call from a futures broker while I was at work, (at a position that certainly wasn't written up in a national magazine,) and he tried to cold-call me. I tried to explain to him why he was mistaken in selling covered calls, mainly due to tax purposes, but he was too dense to understand, apparently (or more likely malicious.) (No, I only wasted about 5 seconds doing his job for him before I hung up )
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 07-17-2007, 12:44 PM
Dewey Finn Dewey Finn is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 16,752
Quote:
Originally Posted by InvisibleWombat
I would be primarily concerned about the sales people who religiously scan the news for anyone with extra money that might want to buy investments, real estate, expensive cars, yachts, and so forth. Given the experience I had, it must be horrible for someone who's listed as winning a few million.
I'll bet that lottery winners also hear from people who need money for various sad and desperate reasons (need critical surgery, about to be evicted, children are ill-fed and ill-clothed, their car died and they have no way to get to work, etc). Of course some of these calls are scammers, but there are certainly enough sad stories out there that you could spend the entire winnings just helping people out.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 07-17-2007, 12:48 PM
Bridget Burke Bridget Burke is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Houston
Posts: 6,903
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey Finn
I'll bet that lottery winners also hear from people who need money for various sad and desperate reasons (need critical surgery, about to be evicted, children are ill-fed and ill-clothed, their car died and they have no way to get to work, etc). Of course some of these calls are scammers, but there are certainly enough sad stories out there that you could spend the entire winnings just helping people out.
Or you get an unlisted phone number. And voicemail, just in case....
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 07-17-2007, 12:55 PM
friedo friedo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 20,601
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walloon
The FOIA is a federal law about federal records, and the records of entitities contracting with the federal government.
However, many states have their own versions of FOIA; for example, New York has the Freedom of Information Law.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 07-17-2007, 01:00 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: 847 mi. from Cecil
Posts: 28,800
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walloon
The FOIA is a federal law about federal records, and the records of entitities contracting with the federal government.
It should be noted that many states have Freedom of Information laws.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 07-17-2007, 01:12 PM
Keeve Keeve is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by bordelond
You know, thinking about this, the Powerball gets won several times a year. Usually it's a 6-figure jackpot ... $20 million here, $40 million there.
[minor nitpick] Those are eight-figure jackpots. [/ minor nitpick]
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 07-17-2007, 01:22 PM
ivylass ivylass is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
When I said I wouldn't tell the world, I wouldn't particpate in a press conference. I'd collect my winnings as quietly as possible, and if it is legal in Florida, go the route zamboniracer described.
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 07-17-2007, 01:44 PM
obfusciatrist obfusciatrist is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
My wife and I have discussed. Since we never buy tickets it is only slightly less likely to ever happen to us.

But if we won a really big amount we'd wait about 2/3rds of the way through the claim window. Let the initial publicity of the big win (and the "where's the winner" stories) die down but not late enough for the "In X more days that huge jackpot will go unclaimed!" stories to start up.

We'd spend the intervening time talking to lawyers, accountants, and estate planners to figure out exactly what we can do to minimize public exposure and how to set things up for dodging the effects of what publicity can't be avoided.

Then I would run for mayor of New York on a campaign platform of "None of the Above"
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 07-17-2007, 02:06 PM
ivylass ivylass is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey Finn
I'll bet that lottery winners also hear from people who need money for various sad and desperate reasons (need critical surgery, about to be evicted, children are ill-fed and ill-clothed, their car died and they have no way to get to work, etc). Of course some of these calls are scammers, but there are certainly enough sad stories out there that you could spend the entire winnings just helping people out.
One of the big lottery winners (he had a mansion down in Palm Beach, FL, and eventually lost it due to nonpayment of HOA fees) had to tell the post office to stop delivering mail unless it was specifically addressed to him by name. He kept getting a lot of letters addressed to "Powerball Winner".

Last edited by ivylass; 07-17-2007 at 02:07 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 07-17-2007, 02:47 PM
FUTBOL! FUTBOL! is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Just west of West Webster
Posts: 1,880
No one seems to have taken on this tack, yet.

Sure, if I were ever to win the New York State Lotto with millions of dollars, I'd be "out there."

But what would there be to prevent me from "disappearing" from all but family, and reappearing as someone else, with a new address as well as a new name?

A change of name is clearly not illegal, unless the process is for an illegal purpose. Or would I be forced to be identified under the new name?

* * * * * * * * * * *

True Blue Jack
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 07-17-2007, 04:25 PM
Billdo Billdo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Delectable City of Gotham
Posts: 4,742
Others having given useful answers already, I suppose I must give the annoyingly pedantic answer:

Of course you can win the lottery anonymously.



Collecting your winnings, on the other hand . . . .
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 07-17-2007, 10:22 PM
zoltar7 zoltar7 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
It appears to be state-specific. For the PowerBall states (from http://www.powerball.com/pb_contact.asp):
CAN I REMAIN ANONYMOUS WHEN I HIT THE JACKPOT?

All but three states (DE, KS, ND) have laws that require the lottery to release the name and city of residence to anyone who asks. One state (SC) will keep your name secret if you request it, but if someone files a Freedom of Information Act request, you may have to file a plea with the judge to deny it. Photos and press conferences are always up to you. Most of the time, it is advisable to get it over with the press so that you don't have one or more reporters following you around to get that "exclusive" interview. A few more lotteries may work with you on setting up a trust or other partnership. You or your representative should contact the lottery for the details after you win.
Other relevant articles:
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/m...9/ai_n16762719
http://www.lotterypost.com/news/114909.htm
http://www.cadenhead.org/workbench/n...ty-kept-secret

Vermont also allows you to remain anonymous (http://www.vtlottery.com/faqs/faqs.asp):
Q: If I win, can I remain anonymous?

A: The name, town and prize amount on your Claim Form is public information. If you put your name on the Claim Form, your name becomes public information. If you claim your prize in a trust, the name of the trust is placed on the Claim Form rather than your name, and the name of the trust is public information.
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 07-17-2007, 11:57 PM
mhendo mhendo is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cunctator
You can here. Winners have the option of remaining anonymous.
Yeah, when i was a kid, my mother played the Lotto in Sydney. IIRC, the Lotto form had a little box you could check titled NFP, which meant that your identity was Not For Publication in the event of you winning the jackpot. Not sure if there's still a similar box to check.
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 07-18-2007, 08:00 AM
Nava Nava is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
In Spain it's anonymous. Government loteries are not taxed as revenue on that year (earnings generated by them can be taxed as revenue on following years, and the bulk amount itself can be taxed as patrimony). There was a big hullabaloo when some genius had the notion to tax winners of the Red Cross Golden Lottery, a special instance which is run by the national lottery but the benefits go to the Red Cross and the prizes are given as bars of gold instead of cash - the government withdrew the change before it got before the first set of judges and paid costs for the lawyers who'd been representing the Red Cross' and the winners.

You see people celebrating their winnings in the Christmas Lottery every year, but it's because they want to. Plus that particular one tends to be enormously split: a store or civic association buys a whole number and then sells "pieces" of it for cost plus a fee; several friends buy a single ticket among all of them... so each of the people who hit the 20M "special ticket" may have gotten five figures. A nice bite off the mortgage but nothing to retire with.

Winners of big prizes (Loto 6-49 and similar) are normally not identified. You just get a spokesperson from the group that runs that particular lottery saying that "the winner has been identified and the moneys have been delivered."

Last edited by Nava; 07-18-2007 at 08:02 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 07-18-2007, 08:15 AM
Hook Hook is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 77
From memory in New South Wales, Australia the reason for the NFP or Not for publication option was the Grahame Thorne case. His parents won one of the very early Opera House lotteries with a prize of $200,000 Aus. Grahame was kidnapped, held for ransom and eventually killed. The kidnappers got all the information they needed from the lottery win publicity. In my opinion based on this case, this is a very good option .

Last edited by Hook; 07-18-2007 at 08:17 AM.. Reason: Additional comment
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 07-18-2007, 08:26 AM
don't ask don't ask is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 16,114
Quote:
Originally Posted by mhendo
Yeah, when i was a kid, my mother played the Lotto in Sydney. IIRC, the Lotto form had a little box you could check titled NFP, which meant that your identity was Not For Publication in the event of you winning the jackpot. Not sure if there's still a similar box to check.
Yes that it still true. Most winners aren't identified by name and many give no identifying details. For example recently :

Friday 15 June 2007

The $9 million dollar first division Powerball prize from last night's draw has been claimed in Wagga Wagga this afternoon.

The local winner is delighted with the windfall but has asked to remain anonymous.
Reply With Quote
  #31  
Old 07-18-2007, 08:41 AM
Small British Shop Owner Small British Shop Owner is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 446
Wagga WHAT?!
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:59 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.