Wednesday, 20 February, 2019

Judge rules $560M Powerball victor can remain anonymous

Judge Charles Temple listens to attorney Steven M. Gordon who represents lottery winner Judge rules $560M Powerball victor can remain anonymous
Melinda Barton | 13 March, 2018, 06:37

A woman who won almost $560m (£403m) in a Powerball jackpot has been allowed to remain anonymous.

The New Hampshire Lottery Commission says it respects a judge's decision to let a woman who won a Powerball jackpot worth almost $560 million keep her identity private.

The judge dismissed the state's argument that disclosing her name would show the public that the lottery system is above board.

The judge wrote that he had "no doubts whatsoever that should Ms. Doe's identity be revealed, she will be subject to an alarming amount of harassment, solicitation, and other unwanted communications". The firm said she made a "huge mistake" when she signed her real name on the back of the ticket before contacting them.

However, Temple added that nothing in his order could be interpreted to prevent the lottery commission or its employees from "processing, maintaining, or accessing Ms. Doe's ticket in the normal course of business".

Steven M. Gordon, a lawyer for Doe, said Monday in a phone interview that his client welcomed the ruling.

The woman, from New Hampshire, had signed her ticket after winning the lottery on 6 January but was later told by lawyers that she could have kept her identity hidden by writing the name of a trust instead.

Attorneys for Doe last week collected the winnings on behalf of her Good Karma Family 2018 Nominee Trust. Lawyer William Shaheen says the woman is from Merrimack, 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Concord (KAHN'-kard).

"While we were expecting a different outcome and believed the State had a strong argument, we respect the court's decision", executive director Charlie McIntyre said. "That said, we will consult with the Attorney General's office to determine appropriate next steps regarding the case".

The victor will collect a lump sum of about $358 million, before subtracting for taxes, according to the New Hampshire Lottery.

In the resolution, Temple called that argument "weak" because a trustee claiming a prize on behalf of an anonymous individual is certainly not a "bona fide" participant and is not the "real" victor of the prize.

The commission said it would have to disclose records identifying Doe if requested, and that any attempt Doe might take to white-out her name on the back of the ticket would invalidate it.

She had already received her after-tax winnings of US$264 million while the judge mulled her claim to privacy.

The woman's lawyers argued her privacy interests outweigh what the state said is the public's right to know who won the money.