New Hampshire's Attorney General to Powerball Winner: You Can't Remain Anonymous

Justin Sullivan  Getty Images

Justin Sullivan Getty Images

A woman, known simply as Jane Doe, is suing the state of New Hampshire for her right to remain anonymous after her January 6 lotto win.

The woman's lawyer has filed a case requesting to keep her anonymous.

State Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald's office, which is representing the lottery commission, countered with its own filing Monday, arguing that officials must release Doe's name and hometown as they appear on the signed ticket, under New Hampshire public records law. Her attorneys say the victor was not aware she could have had a trust sign the ticket for her, and she signed it herself before realizing that.

The unidentified victor is going to court in hopes of getting her winnings while maintaining anonymity.

A judge will hear the motion to dismiss Tuesday in court Hillsborough County Superior Court in Nashua.

"Allowing Ms. Doe to collect payment of the Powerball prize will provide Ms. Doe with the time and resources to adequately prepare for the possibility that the Court will hold that the Commission must disclose her identity in response to a Right to Know request", the attorneys tell the court. New Hampshire is among a handful of states where anonymity can be protected with a bit of legal wrangling.

The lawyers said they want to keep their client's real name private to protect her from what they described as "violence, threats, harassment, scams and constant unwanted solicitation" that have befallen previous lottery winners.

Her lawyers indicated a trust has been set up.

New Hampshire Lottery Executive Director Charlie McIntyre says the woman should be able to claim her winnings as the dispute plays out and that they have been in discussion about transferring money.

The state argues that making the woman's identity known to the public is important so that the public knows the victor is not associated with the lottery in any fashion.

However, under state Lottery Commission rules, any alterations to the back of a winning ticket could disqualify the ticket. [Doe's] life will be altered whether her name is released or not.

Conforti said the ticket is a public document, and the commission believes that it is best to be transparent with the lottery process so that the public can see that winners are not connected to the lottery or the state, or that winners are not in clusters or related. If lawmakers can't help her, they might at least help future winners.

Her lawyers suggested that the victor be allowed to white out her name and replace it with the name of her trust.

She has created a trust and wants the state to either withhold her name from public disclosure or replace her identifying information with that of the trust.

"[Doe] argues that winning in excess of a half-billion dollars is life-altering money and that she prefers to live as normal a life as possible", MacDonald's office wrote.

He said that because he sold the winning ticket the store will receive $75,000.

After court, Shaheen, one of her lawyers, told reporters that his advice to her was simple: "If you like your family and you like your friends and you like your relatives, don't tell anybody".