Every single day I dream about what I’d do if I won the lottery. I’d like to believe that I’d just pay off my debts, buy a house, donate some money, and then save the rest. I love my current life, and I just want to be able to live comfortably.
But never in a million years have I dreamed of winning the lottery and saying “Oh, no thanks. I don’t want the money.” I would be collecting that money faster than church on a Sunday.
One woman in New Hampshire, however, is currently refusing her $560 million prize from the Powerball lottery, after declining to have her name publicized.
The woman, who is just being referred to as Jane Doe, has filed a court case against the lottery officials, asking that she still get the money without having her name released.
“She is a longtime resident of New Hampshire and is an engaged community member,” the woman’s attorney, Steven Gordon, wrote in the court documents. “She wishes to continue this work and the freedom to walk into a grocery store or attend public events without being known or targeted as the winner of a half-billion dollars.”
He also says she wants to live “far from the glare and misfortune that has often fallen upon other lottery winners.”
On the other hand, the lottery officials are saying that releasing names of winners keeps the integrity of the game in tact, because it proves that people are actually winning the money. They also claim it protects against fraud.
Unfortunately for Jane Doe, the law is not in her favor. Open-record laws in New Hampshire state that the winners name, location, and prize among must be released to the public. There is a section that says you can open an anonymous trust, but since the woman has already signed her name, changing the signature would make the ticket null.
In a statement from New Hampshire lottery Executive Director Charlie McIntyre, he said he understands the woman’s desire, but can’t accept it.
The New Hampshire Lottery understands that winning a $560 million Powerball jackpot is a life-changing occurrence. Having awarded numerous Powerball jackpots over the years, we also understand that the procedures in place for prize claimants are critically important for the security and integrity of the lottery, our players and our games. While we respect this player’s desire to remain anonymous, state statutes and lottery rules clearly dictate protocols.
While it seems a little ridiculous that someone would decline half a BILLION dollars because she doesn’t want her name to be released, there is a case to be made that it’s dangerous to publicize it.
There have been many documented cases of people winning the lottery and dying shortly after, either by suicide or murder.
Billie Bob Harrell Jr.
Billie Bob Harrell Jr., who won $31 million in 1997, took his own life due to the stress of his winnings.
“Winning the lottery is the worst thing that ever happened to me,” Harrell told his financial advisor shortly before his death.
Abraham Shakespeare also won $31 million in 2006, and he was extremely generous with his winnings. He would give money to whoever needed or asked for it, but was taken advantage of by Dee Dee Moore.
Moore pretended to be an author who was writing about Shakespeare being taken advantage of due to his winnings. She swindled the last of his money and then murdered the lottery winner.
“She got every bit of his money,” Assistant State Attorney Jay Pruner said in court. “He found out about it and threatened to kill her. She killed him first.”
Moore was sentenced to life in prison with no parole.
Craigory Burch Jr.
Craigory won $434,272 after matching all the numbers in the Georgia Fantasy 5 draw. Just two months later, seven masked men entered his home and murdered the young father.
“When they came in, he said: ‘Don’t do it, bro. Don’t do it in front of my kids. Please don’t do it in front of my kids and old lady,’ ” his girlfriend, Jasmine Hendricks, told WALB-TV at the time. “He said, ‘I’ll give you my bank card.’”
Craigory threw his pants at the robbers, but his wallet wasn’t in there and he was shot right away.
The 20-year-old forklift operator died from his injuries. His family is absolutely convinced that his name being released after winning the lottery is the reason he was killed.