A Woman Won $560 Million. Now She Never Has To Tell Anyone Her Name.

A court just ruled that Jane Doe can remain anonymous.

When people play the lottery, they mostly think of the big cash prizes they can win. Seldom do they think that they can also lose something pretty valuable: their privacy. An anonymous New Hampshire woman faced with the reality of either making her name public or not receiving her $560 million payout went to court for the right to keep her name private. Now the woman, only referred to as Jane Doe, has won yet again

This time, however, her victory could set a major precedent for future lottery winners — and right to privacy advocates — everywhere.

Prior to the recent ruling, New Hampshire Lottery winners were required to write their name, address, and telephone on the back of the winning ticket, which Jane Doe did. She later decided that she wanted to remain anonymous, understandably citing privacy reasons. As Forbes points out, winning the lottery can be potentially hazardous for the winner far beyond them just being asked for money. There are several cases of winners being killed, robbed or altogether scammed out of their winnings.

In the court's decision, Judge Charles Temple wrote, "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."

Agreeing with the judge, Doe's attorney Steve George told WMUR Manchester, "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." 

The victory does come with some caveats. Since New Hampshire Lottery does allow winners to sign tickets with the name of a trust rather than their own name, the ruling doesn't make any significant change to the rules. However, the case does show how important the issue of privacy is, especially with the rise of social media.

As for lotto hopefuls, the case shows that they should review their state's laws regarding the disclosure of their name — and just in time, too, as the Powerball jackpot is at $420 million and rising.

Cover image via Shutterstock / Nikola Ivan Andjelic

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