New Hampshire Powerball Jackpot Winner Can Stay Anonymous
A judge in New Hampshire last week ruled that a woman who sought to remain anonymous after winning a $560 million Powerball jackpot can do so, but that transparency laws require that her community be named. Her home town is Merrimack, but that’s all the public will be able to learn about her.
She won the jackpot on January 6 and was the largest winner in the state’s history. She signed the back of the lottery ticket, not realizing she could have put the name of a legal trust on the back instead, to protect her identify. Her attorney argued that wording on the ticket was vague as to whether she could do this. The lottery commission acknowledged that the rules were not made clear on the ticket, although they were spelled out on the website.
The woman, identified in court records as “Jane Doe,” had sued the New Hampshire Lottery Commission, which cited the Granite State’s “Right-to-Know” law in its insistence that her name be released to the public. Its attorneys claimed that releasing her name would demonstrate that she was a “bona fide” player and a “real” winner.
The woman had worried that she would be subject to harassment and people demanding or soliciting money from her. Her law firm had written, “For instance, the law firm that represents Ms. Doe, Shaheen and Gordon, have been bombarded with solicitations from various individuals seeking to capitalize on her winnings.”
Her attorney argued that her right to privacy outweighed the public’s right to know in this instance.
The judge agreed, writing that Doe “has met her burden of showing that her privacy interest in the nondisclosure of her name outweighs the public’s interest in the disclosure of her name.” He added that it was unlikely that revealing the name of her town would lead to her name being disclosed.
Upon learning of Judge Charles Temple’s ruling, “Doe” was ecstatic, according to her attorneys. “She was jumping up and down,” said William Shaheen. “She will be able to live her life normally.”
The woman has created the Good Karma Family Trust of 2018 and has promised to give away at least $50 million to various charities during her lifetime, such as $150,000 to Girls Inc. and $33,000 to three local chapters of End 68 Hours of Hunger.
She has already been given the $264 million that remained after taxes.