A woman from Merrimack, New Hampshire won the eighth largest lottery jackpot in American history last month. But she still hasn't claimed it, for a surprising reason.
The anonymous woman's Powerball numbers were drawn last month, winning her a huge $560 million payout. According to her lawyer, when she realized her ticket was a winner, the woman felt "awe, disbelief, and an unexpected [emotion]: panic."
As we're shared with you before, there are a number of hidden downsides to winning the lottery. Winners receive publicity and unwanted attention, requests for money from friends and family members, and even become a target for criminals.
Some lotto winners have even suggested that the money is a "curse," and say they would go back in time to rip up their lucky ticket if they could.
The unnamed winner from New Hampshire had obviously heard some of these stories, because she tried to collect her winnings anonymously.
But now the winner is not allowed to keep her identity private, and it's all because she signed her ticket.
Most lottery players know that signing your ticket is a requirement to claim a large prize, but also a way to guarantee your winning ticket won't be claimed by someone else.
Like many lottery boards, the New Hampshire Lottery actually instructs players to sign their tickets on their website.
But there's a catch: in many states, signing your name on a winning ticket makes your identity public knowledge by law.
The only way to protect your identity is to form a trust and sign the trust's name on the ticket. Since the New Hampshire winner didn't do that, she'll have to go public to claim her prize.
Her lawyer, Steven Gordon, is fighting in court to keep her name hidden. He says his client only wants "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."
In a court filing, Gordon says the winner plans to donate winnings to charity, but wants to avoid “the glare and misfortune that has often fallen upon other lottery winners."
He suggested whiting out her name on the ticket, but the lottery board says that would disqualify her from claiming the prize.
The winner has another 11 months to claim her ticket before the prize is expired, but in this case time is literally money.
The Union Leader estimates the woman is losing $50,000 in interest every day her money is not claimed.
Should all lotteries let players win anonymously?