If you win the Mega Millions $1.6 billion jackpot in some states, you can remain anonymous
The record $1.6 billion drawing for the Mega Millions lottery is on Tuesday.
Mega Millions jackpot reaches $1.6 billion
As the Mega Millions jackpot heads toward a record $1.6 billion drawing Tuesday, some ticket-holding hopefuls may wonder if they would be able hide their identities if they won.
The lottery prize is now the biggest ever in the U.S.
Some financial experts advise winners of big lottery prizes to try to remain anonymous.
But only a handful of states allow winners to decide whether they want to stay anonymous. Some states have a law explicitly requiring that lottery winners be publicly identified.
Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina all allow lottery winners to remain anonymous if that’s what the winners prefer, according to Maryland Lottery and Gaming.
Lottery winners in Texas can also stay private if they wish to.
Arizona lottery winners of $600 or more can remain anonymous for 90 days after winning their prizes, according to Maryland Lottery and Gaming. After 90 days, the winners’ identities become part of the public record meaning the information about the winne ‘s identity and the amount of the winning prize is subject to a public records request. Those in the interest of the information could find out by filing a request with the lottery that sold the ticket.
In Georgia, winners can choose against having their identities released publicly if their prize is larger than $250,000.
Most states have laws allowing the lottery that sold the ticket to make such information public.
In Michigan, Mega Millions and Powerball winners must step forward publicly, but winners of other state lottery games can remain anonymous should they choose, according to Maryland Lottery and Gaming.
Some states allow winners to claim their prize through a trust to avoid publicity.
In Maryland, however, a lottery winner can choose to remain anonymous only if they don’t claim the prize through a trust, Maryland Lottery and Gaming said.
New Hampshire requires winners to go public. However, a judge in Concord, New Hampshire, in March allowed the winner of a $560 Powerball jackpot to keep her identity private despite her having signed her ticket with her actual name.
The record $1.6 billion drawing for the Mega Millions lottery is on Tuesday.
Can Lottery Winners Remain Anonymous?
Yes, but the list of states that allow it isn’t very long.
In this article, we’ll show you which US states let lottery winners stay anonymous. We’ll also talk about why most states don’t allow it, and what measures you can take to protect your privacy in case you do win.
What States Allow Anonymous Lottery Winners?
Apparently, just a handful. Only 9 US states allow lottery winners to protect their privacy and stay anonymous. Those are Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio, and Texas.
Some states have different rules. For some lotteries, only winners of prizes over a certain threshold are allowed to remain anonymous. Check out the table below for more details.
States that allow lottery winners to remain anonymous
|State||Who can stay anonymous?|
|Arizona||Winners of prizes $100,000 and above|
|Georgia||Winners of prizes $250,000 and above|
|North Dakota||All winners|
|South Carolina||All winners|
|Texas||Winners of prizes $1 million and above|
Take note that in Arizona, lottery winners of prizes $600 and above also have the option to remain anonymous – albeit temporarily. Their names and identities are kept private for 90 days after the prize is awarded, and only made public knowledge after that time period is up.
States that do NOT allow lottery winners to remain anonymous
All other states not included in the previous list either do not have a state lottery, or require winners’ identities to be released to the public. This includes their name and usually, their photo.
However, there have been some exceptions in the past. Take a look at some special cases where a lottery winner was granted an exception and got to collect their prize while keeping their name secret:
- In New Hampshire, a woman filed a lawsuit against the state’s lottery commission in order to keep her identity off public record. She was the $560 million jackpot winner from the January 6, 2018 Powerball drawing. After a short trial, she was allowed by the ruling judge to remain anonymous and was only required to disclose the name of her hometown, Merrimack. The judge ruled in her favor citing that disclosing her name would jeopardize her safety, and that the Powerball numbers were drawn in Florida anyway.
- In Oregon, a man from Iraq who purchased his lottery ticket from a third-party website won $6.4 million from the August 24, 2015 Megabucks drawing. Months later, he was able to travel to the lottery headquarters in Salem where he collected his earnings. After speaking with the lottery director, he was also given the opportunity to stay anonymous to protect his safety when he returned home.
Why Can’t Lottery Winners Remain Anonymous?
The reason is quite simple. Announcing winners’ identities gives players the assurance that the game isn’t fixed and that real, everyday people have a shot at winning. It’s a layer of transparency that is integral to the success of the game. With confidence in the lottery, more people are inclined to play, which in turn produces more excitement about the game, bigger jackpots to be won, and more significant contributions to society – the goal of all US lotteries.
Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, when asked to explain why he voted against passing a lottery anonymity bill in his state, said it best:
“This bill could undermine the transparency that provides taxpayers confidence in the integrity of the lottery and its games. Moreover, the bill could have the unintended consequence of reducing lottery sales by hampering marketing efforts and the public excitement generated when lottery winners are announced.”
What Can Lottery Winners Do to Protect Their Privacy?
There are some ways that let players protect their identities when playing the lottery. Here are some of them:
- Claim your winnings through a trust or other legal entity. This is a common practice in states that do allow it, which includes Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont. The idea is to first set up a trust and then request the lottery to award the winnings to said trust. Ask for help from a lottery lawyer on how to do this, if whether or not it’s plausible in your state, and if there are other ways you can protect yourself and your money.
- Wait for the hype to die down a bit. In most states, winners have 6 months to a full year to claim their prize. Be warned, however. This strategy isn’t always effective as sometimes, the closer to the deadline you wait, the more buzz around the uncollected prize money there is.
- Participate in group play or syndicates. Playing with others can also be a way to minimize your risk and exposure. Your name is less likely to make headlines and you’ll be increasing your chances of winning as a bonus. The drawback, of course, is that you’ll end up winning less.
- You can also enlist the service of a third-party lottery website when playing. These sites aren’t in the limelight as often as official lotteries are, and some of these services will allow you to stay anonymous completely. You can check out our list of recommended lottery sites for more specifics.
Staying anonymous is the best way to protect yourself after winning the lottery, but not all states give you that option. Find out which states do in this short article.