Can you win the lottery anonymously?

In this thread, the following statement was made:

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?

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’.

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.

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.

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!)

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! :wink:

Does The Sun still have the £5000 reward for those who reveal the names of big prize winners?

This is incorrect. There are three states that allow winners to remain anonymous. From the Powerball website:

So in at least Delaware, Kansas and North Dakota, winners may remain anonymous.

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.

The FOIA is a federal law about federal records, and the records of entitities contracting with the federal government.

Hmm, anyone know about CA? :confused:

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.

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. :smiley:

It’s fun to dream…


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.

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 :))

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…

However, many states have their own versions of FOIA; for example, New York has the Freedom of Information Law.

It should be noted that many states have Freedom of Information laws.

[minor nitpick] Those are eight-figure jackpots. [/ minor nitpick]