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The winner of a $560 million lottery ticket can remain anonymous, scoring a big win for privacy

snow winter walking
snow winter walking

Flickr/PROPhil Roeder

  • A New Hampshire woman who won the Powerball jackpot of $560 million in January can remain anonymous, a judge ruled.

  • The New Hampshire Lottery Commission wanted to dismiss her request to remain anonymous because of the state's Right to Know Law.

  • Jane Doe was worried that had her identity been revealed, she would have been harassed, a concern the court agreed with.

  • The lottery winner took a lump sum payment and has already donated some money to charities.

The winner of a Powerball jackpot of $560 million that had gone unclaimed for two months because of a legal battle for privacy can remain anonymous, a New Hampshire judge ruled Monday.

The New Hampshire Lottery Commission requires that lottery winners write their name, address, and telephone number on the back of the lucky ticket. The woman who won the $560 million jackpot in January quickly signed her name on the back, but has called that a "huge mistake."

Citing privacy reasons, Jane Doe wished to remain anonymous. After a court battle, her name can be kept secret, but the judge declared that her town — Merrimack, New Hampshire — must be made public. 

“To be able to walk around and feel that you're part of a community, but you're not targeted in the community, and that right to privacy, which was so important, was protected in this case,” said Doe's attorney, Steve Gordon.

The winner would have remained anonymous had the ticket been signed in the name of a trust, but Jane Doe was not aware she could do that before she wrote her own name. After learning she won the jackpot, the woman went to the lottery's website and read the rules before discussing the situation with legal counsel.

Her legal team has requested to white-out her name and write the name of a trust over it, but the lottery commission said that would void her winnings. Any alteration to the ticket purchased at Reed's Ferry Market in Merrimack would invalidate it, the lottery commission claimed.

The New Hampshire Lottery rewarded Doe with the lump sum she won — $352 million, but only $264 million after taxes. A lottery winner has a crucial decision to make about either taking the lump sum or the annuity payments.

"The Court has no doubt whatsoever that should Ms. Doe's identity be revealed, she will be subject to an alarming amount of harassment, solicitation, and other unwanted communications,” Judge Charles Temple wrote in the court's decision. Doe, he wrote "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."

The New Hampshire Lottery Commission had requested for the lawsuit to be dismissed citing the state’s Right to Know Law.

The Boston Globe reported that Doe has already donated $250,000 of her winnings to organizations for female empowerment and alleviating childhood hunger. 

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