“She wishes to continue this work and the freedom...."
February 6, 2018 12:39 PM   Subscribe

$559M Lottery Winner Fighting to Remain Anonymous "A woman who won $559.7 million in last month’s New Hampshire Powerball lottery has filed a complaint requesting she be allowed to remain anonymous despite the fact that under state law, lottery winners’ names, towns, and prize amounts are public information."

"According to the rules of the New Hampshire Lottery Commission, in order to claim their winnings by mail, lottery winners must complete the back of their ticket with their name, address, telephone number, and signature. In doing so, however, they also sacrifice their right to anonymity. It was only after the woman, who is referred to in court documents as Jane Doe, consulted with a lawyer that she learned she could have written the name of a trust on the back of her ticket instead, thus protecting her privacy.
The woman’s attorney, Steven Gordon, asked if Jane Doe could white out her name and identifying information in front of lottery officials and write down the name of a trust instead, but was told that doing so would invalidate the ticket, and the woman would lose her winnings."
posted by jenfullmoon (145 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
This makes me wonder: why is it legal and forced to make a lottery winner out themselves, given the horrendous harassment that will subject them to in this day and age?

Also, what the heck is this woman going to do?

This is something I talk about with a lottery obsessed friend of mine, because if she won she wouldn't be able to remain anonymous here either and lord knows she already knows a lot of money grubby folks who would be all over her forever if she won something big.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:42 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


This makes me wonder: why is it legal and forced to make a lottery winner out themselves, given the horrendous harassment that will subject them to in this day and age?

Because the lotteries want them for promotional purposes. The issues have gotten so bad in some countries that winners will appear on TV in costume to protect their identity.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:46 PM on February 6 [12 favorites]


Yeah, agreed. I really think they should get their privacy. OTOH, I can see the problem the lottery faces too. They want relatability for marketing purposes, and also it helps to show that "real people" win and it is not a racket.
posted by Samizdata at 12:46 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


That's the dilemma, I guess- are you willing to ruin your whole life in exchange for millions and millions of dollars. For the record, I'm having one of those days where the answer is YES!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:47 PM on February 6 [66 favorites]


When the lottery gets really ridiculous (> $700M), I'm fond of dropping a few dollars on tickets, mostly to indulge in the fantasy of "what would I do with truly stupid amounts of money." That said, sudden money at this scale is life-destroying, and I'm totally supportive of her desire to hold on to anonomyity.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 12:49 PM on February 6 [8 favorites]


it's Shirley Jackson.
posted by roger ackroyd at 12:50 PM on February 6 [109 favorites]


The thing is, you don't even have to give your name. You can give the name of a trust instead. And I guess the issue here is that she already wrote her name on the ticket before learning she could write the name of a trust? I don't understand why the state has a problem with her changing that. It's bad enough to ask winners to be hounded for the rest of their lives so the state can use them as marketing tools, but to force her into that on a technicality is pretty cold.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 12:51 PM on February 6 [26 favorites]


I hope she has something left over taxes, student loans, medical bills, and credit card debt.
posted by sio42 at 12:51 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


Clearly the answer is to pay Bob Einstein whatever it takes to be your surrogate until things blow over.
posted by notorious medium at 12:53 PM on February 6 [6 favorites]


Because the lotteries want them for promotional purposes

How much extra promotion does a half billion dollar prize need?
posted by Iridic at 12:54 PM on February 6 [21 favorites]


why is it legal and forced to make a lottery winner out themselves

The traditional answer has been: in order to preserve the public integrity of the lottery system, winners names need to publicized in order for the public to be able to trust that the lottery organizers are not rigging the system, and that all players really do have an equal chance to win; a system in which a small group of people hand over half a billion dollars of state funds to an anonymous individual would invite corruption. From that perspective, the real problem is actually the loophole that allows money to flow to an anonymous trust, rather than to a named person -- that is, the problem is that winners aren't required to be named publicly, and that the system has a means of preserving winners anonymity.

That being said, I do think that the tables have flipped in the modern era and changes are warranted -- some states by default make names public, but allow individual winners to make appeals if they can cite a potential for harm; some states have moved to requiring that some information be published (say, a first name) while allowing other information to be withheld (eg, last name).

An overview, via the Chicago Tribune: Should lottery winners' names be secret? States debate the anonymity issue
[A]llowing winners to collect jackpots in secret invites public suspicion and makes it easier for cheating to go undetected, according to gambling experts and others.

Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina allow winners to remain anonymous. A growing number of other states, including Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont, will award prizes to a trust and allow a trustee — usually an attorney — to collect without disclosing the name of the ticket holder. States including Illinois and Oregon have made exceptions to their policy of disclosure when winners demonstrate a high risk of harm.
...
Bills to keep lottery winners names confidential failed in North Carolina and New York in the last few years. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in 2013 vetoed a bill that called for a one-year delay in releasing names, saying it could reduce lottery sales by hampering marketing and muting public excitement when winners are announced. Similar measures have also been introduced in Arizona, Pennsylvania and Texas.
I'm not convinced that there's a good way to balance those competing interests -- valid personal fears of harm, based on actual harm done to winners; valid fears of fraud, based on actual fraud that has taken place -- once dollar values get absurdly high; I'm inclined to think that drastically capping the potential payouts would held alleviate both concerns, as unpalatable as that might be for some.
posted by cjelli at 12:56 PM on February 6 [30 favorites]


I'm inclined to think that drastically capping the potential payouts would held alleviate both concerns, as unpalatable as that might be for some.

Good luck getting people to buy tickets. The Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries are totally dependent on large jackpots to generate sales.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 1:05 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


In Iowa, there was a huge scandal when a lottery official was caught trying to anonymously claim a $15 million Hot Lotto jackpot. The state refused to pay, based on open records requirements, and the subsequent investigation revealed the official had tampered with the random number generator so it wasn’t quite so random.

It was quite the little saga when it happened.

That said, if I ever win, I’ll fight like hell to stay anonymous.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 1:12 PM on February 6 [7 favorites]


What if we just added an extra tenth of a percent to rich people's taxes, and so we didn't need to trick people into playing goofy carnival games in order to fund our schools?
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:12 PM on February 6 [141 favorites]


I think people like the *idea* of suddenly being worth a half a billion dollars. But going from poor to stupid rich instantly really is a life-ruiner. You're friends are gone (or suspect), your family will (probably) want more than you will give them.

People worth this much money without the lottery either grew up understanding the burdens of wealth or slowly realized them as they were accumulating their wealth.

If she loses the lawsuit her life would probably be a better one if she burned the ticket publicly. She'd probably then go bankrupt due to the lawsuit fees, but her life might actually be a better one.

I've seen suggestions online that she change her name and move, but what is the point of having an influx of money if every social tie that you had is suddenly cut and you are essentially on the run. The 'rich persons club' isn't going to accept you as one of your own, you're pretty much fucked.

10 million dollars is probably a more manageable sum. But her fears aren't unfounded - there are literally numerous examples of how this newfound wealth got them killed, and countless examples of how every scam artist came out of the woodwork to get the newly rich's money.
posted by el io at 1:13 PM on February 6 [8 favorites]


What if we just added an extra tenth of a percent to rich people's taxes, and so we didn't need to trick people into playing goofy carnival games in order to fund our schools?

Oh no, that's a scammy lie. Lotteries don't fund education at all. They are literally just another tax on the poor.
posted by el io at 1:16 PM on February 6 [44 favorites]


I didn't realize that setting up a trust was so quick and easy that it could be done in the time between the drawing and the claiming of the prize.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:19 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


I don't buy lottery tickets normally, but at my old workplace I took part in the lottery pool because I wasn't going to be the only person who didn't get to retire in the infinitesimally unlikely event that we won the jackpot. That said, when I'd talk about the prospect with co-workers, none of them ever believed me when I told them I didn't *want* to win one of those mega-paydays worth tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars. Even if nobody ripped me off or robbed me (or killed me during a robbery, apparently), it would just change my life and my relationship with friends and family way too much to come into that much money suddenly. At 44, really all I want is enough money to retire, and I don't need $559 million to do that.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:20 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


What we obviously need is an assigned fraud detective funded by the lottery, one per winner, to harvest all the scam artists that come out of the woodwork. This pipe dream assumes that cops and the government actually care about combating fraud.
posted by benzenedream at 1:23 PM on February 6 [6 favorites]


I think people like the *idea* of suddenly being worth a half a billion dollars. But going from poor to stupid rich instantly really is a life-ruiner. You're friends are gone (or suspect), your family will (probably) want more than you will give them.

Yeah, but anonymity in terms of the lottery doesn't have anything to do with that. Like your family is not going to know that you won. It's basically a made up issue. The people that hound you will do it based on big data purchasing decisions that you make - it's not the common occurrence like Jimmy on the corner is going to beg you to be your friend and give him money.
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:25 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


I'm not seeing her argument, frankly. The law is clear that this is public information, and the rules are clear as for what you need to do to be able to collect. The rest is simple contract law.

That she didn't set up a trust as she could have done, well, that's on her. I'm not seeing her mistake or ill-preparedness as any reason to exempt her from the legal requirements and rules of the game.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:26 PM on February 6 [6 favorites]


Does it make a difference to the "too bad" crowd if the lottery itself tells you to sign your ticket before you even know if you have won?
posted by soelo at 1:32 PM on February 6 [17 favorites]


I'm not seeing her argument, frankly. The law is clear that this is public information, and the rules are clear as for what you need to do to be able to collect.

Well, it seems that she is challenging the law. So, yes, there is a law about this being 'public information', but she is trying to challenge that. I wish her luck.

As far as her mistake or ill-preparedness... I assume the order of operations went something like this - she saw she was a winner, she read the instructions to sign the ticket on the back of the ticket and did as instructed, she immediately went to see a lawyer realizing that her life was about to get super complicated, the lawyer said 'you signed it? oh fuck, you're fucked, we'll see what we can do about it'. Her actions seemed more than reasonable (specifically, her immediately going to a lawyer after winning); yes, she now knows that the proper order of operations would be going to a lawyer before signing the ticket, but I imagine if you polled 100 people about 100 of those folks would have done the same thing.

If the ticket had said "either sign this ticket yourself or have your duly appointed trust manager sign the ticket" there might have been an 'a-ha' moment and she might not have signed the ticket.

The spirit of the law 'this is public information' is totally destroyed by the fact you can set up a trust and not make it public information, so is it a reasonable law in that light? Personally I don't think so, and wish her well in her legal actions.
posted by el io at 1:42 PM on February 6 [36 favorites]


Winning huge lottery jackpots not only tears apart families and wrecks people's lives; it also kills many of them. The stories are horrific [CW: addiction, suicide, murder]. Instead of expecting people to "just know" that they have options to protect their privacy, consider whether lotteries have a moral duty to inform winners of their rights, just like the police have a legal duty to inform suspects of theirs.
posted by mbrubeck at 1:42 PM on February 6 [24 favorites]


For huge payouts, absolutely. Don't forget that a winner might be an immigrant from a part of the world where kidnappings are common.
posted by Beholder at 1:44 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


I play on birthdays and anniversaries, and my father plays whenever he's visiting a state with a lottery, so the possibility exists for a win, though it's really just paying for daydream fodder since we do understand the odds.

I'd want to be anonymous because I certainly wouldn't want to deal with people begging us for money--but as to the comments above about cutting yourself off from all social ties...well, some of us don't really *have* social ties outside our immediate family. Yay for crippling social ineptitude? I mean, I have co-workers, but whenever I get to retire, whether that be at a normal age or early, I'll be moving on with probably no contact with them.

That said, my wife and I have planned out what we'd do at various levels of prize money, and if we somehow hit one of the super jackpots, we agree we'd pretty much have to make figuring out which causes to give it to our full time jobs.
posted by Four Ds at 1:47 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


This is the best description I know of at how disruptive it can be to win the lottery--the prominent case is also in mbrubeck's link near the end.
posted by foxfirefey at 1:50 PM on February 6 [21 favorites]


The stories are horrific [CW: addiction, suicide, murder].

Another recent lottery winner story (man wins, can afford to see doctor... dies of Stage IV cancer less than a month later) is sad in a wholly different way.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:56 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


For those of you worried that winning a lot of money could ruin your life, I volunteer to take that burden off your hands. Send me in to face the peril.
posted by InfidelZombie at 1:56 PM on February 6 [38 favorites]


If lottery winners names didn't have to be public knowledge, we'd never know that Whitey Bulger shared a fourteen million dollar Mass state lottery prize with some friends.
posted by rmd1023 at 2:04 PM on February 6 [7 favorites]


This makes me wonder: why is it legal and forced to make a lottery winner out themselves, given the horrendous harassment that will subject them to in this day and age?


Oh, I can think of a lot of reasons. First, the "winner" may have stolen the ticket, such as a convenience store worker. Second, they may have bought it with a group or left a spouse -- all who would be entitled to a share and would have no other way of knowing. Third, if the winners are anonymous, how would we know if someone actually won -- or if it were a scam?

There is a logical reason for it, and there have been real-life cases of every scenario I mentioned above, at least here in Canada.

I am of two minds on this: if you don't want to reveal yourself, then why did you buy a ticket? No one made you play. If that is an issue, then just don't buy a ticket, or buy one without an obscene jackpot. You knew what you signed up for.

I do have some sympathy for her, because that is too much money and you do become isolated and vulnerable, but the transparency is there for a reason, and you do kiss your old life away when you win that kind of sum -- but you know that going into it.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 2:07 PM on February 6 [12 favorites]


As for the effects of winning the lottery, I know someone who won $2M over a 20 year payout, which seems kind of the perfect level of payout for folks who are already comfortable and head-above-water financially. After taxes, it was less than $100K, I think - they gave a lot of gifts, took a lot of trips, but couldn't totally quit their jobs. Just, everything was a bit easier. Including retirement.
posted by rmd1023 at 2:08 PM on February 6 [6 favorites]


So that Reddit thread was something else. Is there no way to win a whole lot of money and not ruin your life? Is it "become a recluse or have your family and friends all try to murder/sponge off you forever"?

On the other hand, a lot of those folks appeared to have troubled lives pre-lottery.
posted by emjaybee at 2:13 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Also, what the heck is this woman going to do?

Cry all the way to the bank?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 2:13 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


I would like to offer my services on better terms than InfidelZombie — if anyone here wins hundreds of millions of dollars, I will act as the winner in exchange for merely half of the proceeds. We’ll actually establish a blind trust, but then for any & all promotional needs I will appear in your place while you live quietly on half of the winnings.

I will also wear ripped t-shirts, and be carrying a handle of Jack, in every promotional appearance. I may also loudly demand that “that audio guy” play Cocaine Blues during any interview, but I reserve the right to demand other songs instead. I also will reserve the right to change my attire as necessary to continue to provide maximum viewer enjoyment, but as winner you will have the right to insist that I at least wear pants.

This is my promise to you.
posted by aramaic at 2:16 PM on February 6 [32 favorites]


I've seen the reddit comment that foxfirefey posted above before; it has what seems to be solid advice--get the professional assistance of lawyers from a firm big enough that they won't just take the money and run; be willing to say no to people, at least in the short term; get away from everyone for at least a month. The last one is probably the most important. Most rags-to-riches-to-rags stories that I've read involve people who couldn't say no for the life of them and seemed to assume that the money would just never run out.

And, probably, just come to terms with a certain basic fact.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:17 PM on February 6


"Well, it seems that she is challenging the law"

Yeah, well, I knew a bunch of people in high school who were "challenging the law" against selling ganja.

"if you don't want to reveal yourself, then why did you buy a ticket"

Ding ding ding!
posted by kevinbelt at 2:23 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'm sure literally everyone knew before reading this article that buying a lottery ticket means potentially having to publicly reveal your identity if you win, and that there's also this loophole where you can sign the ticket over to a trust to preserve your anonymity...
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 2:41 PM on February 6 [21 favorites]


2 things occur to me: Maybe she just needs a better connected lawyer and winning the lottery isn't cancer. Sure having a 250 million windfall is going change everything but so is getting struck by lightning which I'm guessing you have more of a chance of having happen to you so you get the good and you get the bad. The fundamental problem is that for a lot of people they don't have a clue about what to do and they are suddenly very isolated, it would be a rare friend or relative that could remain untransformed by the event and I imagine you pretty much have to figure out who to trust in a whole new way. I don't think winning the lottery "ruins your life" but it certainly enables people to run right off the rails and invites all kinds of predators out of the forest. I don't really have a strong opinion on lottery secrecy so maybe a compromise would be if your identity was withheld for a year till you get your bearings. Than again maybe the problem is just that there shouldn't be lotteries that pay so much money in the first place. It is very American winner take all and I have been told (for what it is worth) that the lottery in Spain has small prizes and lots of winners, which sounds like a much friendlier system of taxing human weakness.
posted by Pembquist at 2:41 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Here in Australia, lottery winners have been able to request privacy since the botched kidnapping and murder of 8-year-old Graeme Thorne in 1960. Graeme's parents had won the Sydney Opera House lottery, their names were all over the front page and the kidnapper wanted to get his hands on some of it so he stalked, abducted and (allegedly accidentally) killed their child.

The privacy regulation doesn't appear to have harmed the lotteries here. Winners' stories and their ages and locations are often available and publicised, just not their names.
posted by andraste at 2:44 PM on February 6 [18 favorites]


There was a smaller $451 million Mega Million jackpot winner a week or so before the $559 million Powerball drawing. The winner was a 20 year old from Florida who quickly outed himself as the winner on Facebook. Don't be like that guy.
posted by peeedro at 2:49 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Win big and immediately flee the country for a very extended stay in a tropical beach resort?
posted by Gwynarra at 2:50 PM on February 6


I wonder sometimes if a good strategy if I were ever to win hundreds of millions of dollars would be to give all but what I needed for retirement to charity.
posted by MoonOrb at 2:57 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


If you win big - like BIG - and your name becomes public, how would you ever guarantee the safety of your extended family? Your aunt goes on vacation to Mexico and you get a ransom note - then what?

And I'm sure the thought crosses your mind that maybe your aunt is faking her own kidnapping - or maybe she just thinks she's faking it, and she really is being kidnapped. At that point it's just all hall of mirrors stuff.

Donating it all to charity is probably less of a shield than you think, given that potential kidnappers / blackmailers / thieves / scammers will always suspect that you kept enough of it for yourself to make it worth their while.

Ugh. I don't know - don't play, and if you play and win, try for a really bulletproof anonymous trust, I guess.
posted by RedOrGreen at 3:05 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


I will also wear ripped t-shirts, and be carrying a handle of Jack, in every promotional appearance. I may also loudly demand that “that audio guy” play Cocaine Blues during any interview, but I reserve the right to demand other songs instead

At any interview I will just start singing "Jackson" while trying to provide rhythm by intermittently blowing over the top of my Schlitz bottle. I will address all interviewers as "Honey."
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 3:08 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


I'm somewhat torn between my deeply held belief that people should have control over what information about them is public and my deeply held conviction that the rich should live in fear.
posted by rodlymight at 3:15 PM on February 6 [18 favorites]


Your aunt goes on vacation to Mexico and you get a ransom note - then what?


This seems unnecessary to worry about. Like if you have $1 million and you get murdered you become quasi-famous, that's how rare it is. And Mexico isn't some land of insane kidnappers who have the super internet to find the pictures and likenesses of every wealthy person in the US. The company I work for just had a bunch of meetings in Mexico because we are doing some business there and it's easier with current immigration rules to get people to Mexico than the US (for a huge multinational firm) and the CEO went and he didn't get kidnapped and ransomed and he regularly appears on TV and in print.
posted by The_Vegetables at 3:17 PM on February 6 [10 favorites]


Good Lord metafilter can take the fun out of anything. Winning the lottery might be life altering but so is getting hit by a bus and ending up a quadriplegic and only one of those scenarios comes with a lifetime of financial security and all the tropical beach vacations you want.

The phrasing of this is odd. It's like the winner is a prominent advocate for something (poverty? Housing?) and believes that being rich will ruin their ability to effectively advocate. Now we all know that being rich massively IMPROVES your ability to advocate so they sound more invested in what their advocacy does for them than what they can do for their chosen causes. It comes across as really strange "I want to be rich but continue to appear not to be for reasons having to do with my public stances on matters". They sound shady as hell tbh.

That or its someone in government who doesn't want anyone to know. Is the governor is NH a woman?
posted by fshgrl at 3:23 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


I'm somewhat torn between my deeply held belief that people should have control over what information about them is public and my deeply held conviction that the rich should live in fear.

i mean? same? but someone who, against steep fucking odds, becomes hugely rich overnight should probably not be subjected to the same wholly justified and earned loathing that the entrenched 1% of the nation are; they have no political or social power and will statistically end up far worse off than they were originally, and more importantly they haven't spent their entire lives (or indeed multiple generations of family lives) enthusiastically profiting off the suffering and exploitation of others.
posted by poffin boffin at 3:24 PM on February 6 [27 favorites]


I'm somewhat torn between my deeply held belief that people should have control over what information about them is public and my deeply held conviction that the rich should live in fear.

The thing is, this isn't the same kind of institutional, systemic wealth that we normally associate with the 1%. This is a woman who bought a ticket and very suddenly chanced into hundreds of millions of dollars. It's a lot of money, and she will soon be extremely wealthy, but the vast majority of wealthy people are not like her. She is not part of a wealthy family dynasty. She's not the CEO of a company. Shoot, or maybe she is, since she's currently still anonymous. But the odds are that she doesn't control the flow of capital out of anyone's pockets. She may be able to leverage her money into a position like that, but for the time being, she is someone who won the lottery, and is worried about having her life ruined like so many other lottery winners.

(On preview poffin boffin said it better)
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 3:26 PM on February 6 [8 favorites]


If you win big - like BIG - and your name becomes public, how would you ever guarantee the safety of your extended family? Your aunt goes on vacation to Mexico and you get a ransom note - then what?

I have a conspiracy theory that all of the bad things that can happen in these situations? That's why MC Hammer "declared bankruptcy." That's absolutely the tack I would take. "I went to Monaco for a year and gambled it all away. Bummer!"
posted by rhizome at 3:26 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


"It comes across as really strange"

Remember, we're talking about New Hampshire.
posted by kevinbelt at 3:31 PM on February 6 [6 favorites]


Or maybe she's the richest person on the tri-state area and doesn't want anyone to know she's keeping it all and not donating it to charity.
posted by fshgrl at 3:33 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Your aunt goes on vacation to Mexico and you get a ransom note - then what?

It really depends on which aunt.
posted by betweenthebars at 3:33 PM on February 6 [27 favorites]


1. Claim ticket.
2. Hire lawyer; begin process of name change and other identity changes.
3. Hire makeup artist. Go on tv etc in disguise that doesn't look like a mask.
4. Hire security for home.
5. Finish name change; update legal documents; get bank account in new name.
6. Buy house in a different state. Buy half a block of houses.
7. Move self, family, closest friends to new location with new name.

... I'd be willing to put up with an awful lot of life-disruption for half a billion dollars.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 3:49 PM on February 6 [9 favorites]


Yeah, I'm sure literally everyone knew before reading this article that buying a lottery ticket means potentially having to publicly reveal your identity if you win, and that there's also this loophole where you can sign the ticket over to a trust to preserve your anonymity...

I'd never heard of this trust thing before in my life.

I don't play the lottery and after reading how this thread has gone, I don't think I ever will. Before I just didn't play because I can't delude myself into thinking I'd win and I'd rather get a gumball with my money because at least that's tangible (and I hate gumballs), but now...just NOPE.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:55 PM on February 6


After lawyers and stuff, the first thing I'd do is buy this plot of land and turn it over to the National Park Service.

Then I'd find somewhere for myself to live, very far away from people. Probably Montana or Alaska. It won't be anything ostentatious. Definitely not a "holy fuck, look at that" house.

I'd pay off my debt, which isn't much, then all the debt of my family and close friends. I'd invest enough so that I can live on around $75k/year for about 50 years (I'm 43). Right now, $75k is an incredible amount of money and I can't fathom being able to spend more than that.

And then.... all the rest goes to charity. There's nothing to bother me for, and you won't be able to find me anyway.
posted by AFABulous at 4:12 PM on February 6 [14 favorites]


Send me in to face the peril.

No, it's far too perilous.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:13 PM on February 6 [6 favorites]


From that reddit thread:
If you are really paranoid, you might consider picking another G7 or otherwise mainstream country [to buy bonds from] other than the U.S. according to where you want to live if the United States dissolves into anarchy or Britney Spears is elected to the United States Senate.
I amend my previous comment thusly.
posted by AFABulous at 4:21 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


more importantly they haven't spent their entire lives (or indeed multiple generations of family lives) enthusiastically profiting off the suffering and exploitation of others.

But they wished to. And you know the old saying about wishes. It goes “Buy the ticket, take the ride”
posted by rodlymight at 4:22 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


The Underpants Monster: "I didn't realize that setting up a trust was so quick and easy that it could be done in the time between the drawing and the claiming of the prize."

Is there a short limit in the States? Up here in Canada you have 6 months to claim your prize (giving up hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest every day of course but still; you have time).
posted by Mitheral at 4:23 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Yea, this really isn't that complicated. Sure itd be nice to not have to disclose, but I want my public funds disclosed in full, every time. One persons windfall doesn't trump everyone else's interest in accountability.

So cash the ticket and take a 6 month vacation to Fiji or the Maldives. Get a new phone and don't give anyone the number except your lawyers and accountant. Come back and move into a new house, everyone but your family will have forgotten your name by then and now you're back to being a more or less anonymous person your new neighbors have never heard of. Enjoy your new life.

Warren Buffett lives in the same house in Omaha he's had since the 50s and no one has ever tried to kidnap him. My parents are sort-of friends with a guy who cashed out his business in the 90s for around 100$mil and Jesus knows what theyre worth now, other than flying charter all over the place and owning a beach house in Florida now they still live in the exact same subdivision my parents do, no armed guards, no black SUVs, and I'd have heard about any kidnappings. It's entirely possible to be stupid fucking rich and walk around with no one having any idea.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:24 PM on February 6 [22 favorites]


Right now, $75k is an incredible amount of money and I can't fathom being able to spend more than that.

Move to a remote area in Alaska and you'll be able to fathom it real quick. That'll probably cover your health insurance premiums, your food and your heating bill.
posted by fshgrl at 4:34 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Yeah, in a lot of urban-adjacent places that won't even buy you much of a house.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:43 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Not that $75k is chicken feed, but still.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:44 PM on February 6


Now I’m thinking the real opportunity here is for the three of us to form “The Winning Team!1!!”. We claim all major prizes on behalf of the real winners, do our song-and-dance routines to the cameras, rake in the bucks and after a year or so the media gets super goddamn tired of us (“oh Jesus fuck, it’s these guys again?”).

Then everyone lives their quiet wealthy lives, and the three of us take a percentage cut from all future blissfully-ignored lottery winners for our being True American Heroes, thereby leading us to lives of ridiculous excess and mayhem that can only be comprehended as pure myth by our distant descendants.

As a plan, it can’t fail. It can only be failed.
posted by aramaic at 4:46 PM on February 6 [9 favorites]


Really? Surely you can grasp what I meant without nitpicking numbers. $75k here will get you a solid upper-middle-class lifestyle that allows for travel, restaurants, and a nice car, but is not extravagant. Extrapolate to whatever that costs wherever you are. I mean, come on. And surely you didn't think I meant to buy a house with $75k, which won't get you much anywhere in the country.
posted by AFABulous at 4:53 PM on February 6 [6 favorites]


Up here in Canada you have 6 months to claim your prize.

Sometimes 12 months.

I dunno about winning the lottery; I'd probably be a miserable shut-in who shuns people and just sits around the house and reads or goes on the internet without any close friendships or ties to extended family, but with millions and millions of dollars. *Shudders* What a nightmare.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:55 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


notch
posted by poffin boffin at 4:56 PM on February 6 [6 favorites]


I'm like that already give me my money.

Well I'm not notch-bad, but still, give me my money
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:01 PM on February 6




Contrary to popular beliefs, winners did not engage in lavish spending sprees and instead gave large amounts of their winnings to their children and their churches. The most common expenditures were for houses, automobiles and trips. It was found that overall, winners were well-adjusterd [sic], secure and generally happy from the experience.

I think a lot of that has to do with counselling a lot of winners receive these days. I think people do learn from past mistakes.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 5:21 PM on February 6


She's not even rich yet and she's already worried about the poors judging her or coming around with their hands out.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 5:53 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


The traditional answer has been: in order to preserve the public integrity of the lottery system, winners names need to publicized in order for the public to be able to trust that the lottery organizers are not rigging the system, and that all players really do have an equal chance to win

You can achieve those goals and preserve anonymity with a cryptographic system, but I guess it's not going to be as telegenic as plucking ping pong balls out of a windy chamber.
posted by Coventry at 5:55 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


$75k here will get you a solid upper-middle-class lifestyle

I apologize, I was thinking in terms of a one-time payment rather than per year. Dumb mistake on my part. I retract my comment.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:04 PM on February 6


She's not even rich yet and she's already worried about the poors judging her or coming around with their hands out.

"... strangers began rubbing the 57-year-old for luck.
And that win only involved $1.75 million.
"
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:09 PM on February 6


Won't somebody please think of the semibillionaires!
posted by ActingTheGoat at 6:10 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


I love how we know pretty much nothing about this anonymous woman, but we know enough to think she's a jerk who is refusing to accept personal responsibility for the mess she's gotten into, who has always wished she could siphon money off the working class (and finally can!), and who hates poor people and doesn't want to share her wealth in any way.

I mean, what kind of a person buys a lottery ticket and then doesn't accept the winnings openly and publicly like an ordinary person whose life eventually gets completely destroyed by their massive windfall? Yeah, screw you, anonymous jerk about whom none of us actually knows anything beyond the fact that you bought a lottery ticket, won, and are currently trying to protect your identity!
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 6:30 PM on February 6 [32 favorites]


You know, I hear the blockchain could be of use in this situation
posted by benzenedream at 6:32 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


If you win big - like BIG - and your name becomes public, how would you ever guarantee the safety of your extended family? Your aunt goes on vacation to Mexico and you get a ransom note - then what?

This applies to every rich person in America, though. It's not unique to lottery winners. People with hundreds of millions of dollars usually aren't anonymous. So sure, it's tough being rich and that comes with its own problems. But bottom line is its not as tough as being poor.
posted by mark k at 6:33 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]




I admit I play the lotto when both the jackpot and my Personal Despair Level get to a certain amount. I know my PDL level is up there when I start looking at abandoned churches/mills or Grade II homes in England that I could in theory buy (and emigrate via investing some wad of cash into, I dunno canal futures).
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:41 PM on February 6 [6 favorites]


I feel that I’d be an ideal lottery winner. I already know who my good friends are, and I’m enough of a jerk to tell potential hangers-on to fuck off. My immediate family is very small and my extended family hasn’t been in touch for 20 years. I’m not married and I don’t have in-laws. I have a really common name and there are about a dozen of me in the phone book and thousands of me on Google. I live in a townhome complex where all the houses look the same, and my neighbors are all casually nosy, like we don’t get in each other’s business but we keep a weather eye out for shenanigans.

I notice people have formed LLCs to claim lottery winnings and that’s probably what I would do. And then good luck figuring out which of me it is and which house is mine. Oh, I’m sure they would and it wouldn’t take very long, but long enough for me to put up a bulwark against the sharks.

Yes, I’ve thought about this way too much.
posted by Autumnheart at 6:43 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


Step 1: Get three lawyers in a room together. Explain to them that they are to fight each other and the last person standing gets $2M. Put the footage on YouTube.

Step 2: Get the surviving lawyer and an accountant in a room. Give the accountant $2M for his/her trouble. Explain that you want them to work out how to figure out the taxes and everything else so that you are left with $100,000 free and clear for yourself and you have a post-tax amount of $X.

Step 3: Offer Adam Sandler 1/3 of $X to never make another movie again. He will refuse, of course, but the gesture will solidify your good-human-being reputation.

Step 4: 1/3 $X goes to the ACLU.

Step 5: 1/3 $X goes to the first person who can bring you a documented and notarized photograph of Barry Manilow's asshole. This does not count if the person bringing the photograph is Barry Manilow.

Step 6: The remaining 1/3 $X founds an official US branch of the Monster Raving Loony Party, to be managed by whoever you designate. This does count if it ends up being Barry Manilow.

~fin~
posted by delfin at 6:47 PM on February 6 [6 favorites]


You can achieve those goals and preserve anonymity with a cryptographic system, but I guess it's not going to be as telegenic as plucking ping pong balls out of a windy chamber.

You know, I hear the blockchain could be of use in this situation

Paying people in Bitcoin would certainly solve the problem of lottery winnings having a dramatic effect on the winner's life.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:48 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


When people say "I would never play the lottery, the odds are astronomical, etc." I think they suppose they're asserting something about their intelligence and maybe about their impatience with schemes on the poor. But to me, what they're really saying is, "I have no idea what it would feel like to have a shitty life so devoid of options to improve it that trading a few dollars for some time spent making 'plans' on what I'd do with my winnings is a fair deal." And you know, good on you, for having a nice life with options and shit. Respectfully, you should STFU and go enjoy that.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:49 PM on February 6 [41 favorites]


(The above comment wasn't for anyone here mind you. it was more for the Harharhar stoopid poors! contingent that can't help themselves whenever the lottery comes up in conversation.)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:58 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile as she dithers with her lawsuit she is foregoing over $40,000 a day in interest. You can buy a lot of personal security services, lawyers and financial advisers for $40,000 a day.
posted by JackFlash at 6:59 PM on February 6 [6 favorites]


I think spending $3 on a few hours of quality fantasizing isn’t a complete waste of money. You’d spend three times that much on a movie ticket and it might not even be a good movie. But that’s only if you can waste $3 and not have it wreck your budget.
posted by Autumnheart at 7:03 PM on February 6 [10 favorites]


On the other hand if you have a quarter of a billion dollars in capital 40K doesn't even register as something worth bending over for.
posted by Mitheral at 7:04 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


I love how we know pretty much nothing about this anonymous woman, but we know enough to think she's a jerk who is refusing to accept personal responsibility for the mess she's gotten into, who has always wished she could siphon money off the working class (and finally can!), and who hates poor people and doesn't want to share her wealth in any way.

Are you new here?

For the record I was kidding around and making outrageous assumptions in a facetious way. The governor thing might have tipped you off
posted by fshgrl at 7:07 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Iris Gambol: "Another recent lottery winner story (man wins, can afford to see doctor... dies of Stage IV cancer less than a month later) is sad in a wholly different way."

An old man turned ninety-eight
He won the lottery and died the next day
posted by Chrysostom at 7:19 PM on February 6 [7 favorites]


Wealthy people and celebrities hire personal assistants, business managers and phone/mail screeners, and live behind giant fences to protect themselves from harassment, don't they? Even though it's a shame she didn't know about the trust route until it was too late, at least she'll have the money to implement some of those standard privacy-protecting methodologies...

In fact, as I recall that's one of the best things about having an agent and a business manager when you're a famous celebrity -- you can be the nicest person to your friends and family, but when they ask about money and whatnot, you can refer them to your agent/business manager who acts to protect your interests without worrying about offending those friends and family.
posted by davejay at 7:35 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


You know, I hear the blockchain could be of use in this situation

Not necessary, unless you want to make a lottery which has no dependence on a centralized authority. There are people doing exactly that, though.
posted by Coventry at 7:35 PM on February 6


In many states, even a trust won't help you. The rule in California:
You can form a trust prior to claiming your prize, but understand that your name is still public and reportable.
posted by eye of newt at 7:58 PM on February 6


My very Catholic great grandfather had an elegant solution to this problem: write down your numbers on a piece of paper, but don't buy a ticket. He would do this every day, and then sit in front of the TV watching the drawing. All the thrill and excitement of guessing a random string of numbers, without the burden of mooching relatives or your eternal soul damned forever.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 8:10 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


I would buy said house with personal assisstants and walls and gates, and then always be traveling. "I'd love to hang out, but I'm in Fiji!" "I'd love to have a meeting about your business idea, but I'm in Fiji!" whether or not you're home. I'd use other places besides Fiji, but Fiji's pretty remote, I could see myself buying an imaginary cabin there. For best results, be sure to turn off all location reporting in your social networks.
posted by rhizome at 8:15 PM on February 6 [6 favorites]


I already have an imaginary cabin in Fiji.
posted by AFABulous at 8:27 PM on February 6 [11 favorites]


Do you know a good handyman?
posted by rhizome at 8:32 PM on February 6 [6 favorites]


Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane: "My very Catholic great grandfather had an elegant solution to this problem: write down your numbers on a piece of paper, but don't buy a ticket."

I used to play the same numbers on the couple of times a year I'd play but then I got to thinking how soul destroying it would be to hear those numbers come up when I hadn't bought a ticket. So I just let the computer choose now.
posted by Mitheral at 8:44 PM on February 6 [11 favorites]


Never play the LOST numbers or you'll have to split the winnings with hundreds of other dummies.
posted by AFABulous at 9:24 PM on February 6 [10 favorites]


Pretty sure if I won HALF-A-BILLION DOLLARS I would transform into a mink-coat-wearing, servant-beating, republican-Senator-buying douchenozzle by next sunrise. Money is a drug.
posted by um at 9:30 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


I’d ditch all of my friends in an instant for a half billion. Close my Metafilter account, happily leave this life. Give money to family members begging for help? Fuck, I’d use the money to financially ruin those inbred Trump voters. Yeah, I’d probably spend a hundred million to ransom one of my kids back, but I honestly don’t think anyone would get near them on my private island off the coast of Iceland, what with my bazooka collection and all.

You can buy new and better friends and family. Infinite financial security and comfort? This would solve literally every existential problem I face in life. This woman lacks imagination.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:05 PM on February 6 [9 favorites]


Never play the LOST numbers or you'll have to split the winnings with hundreds of other dummies.

I got an A in discrete probability. I play solitaire on the computer.
posted by mikelieman at 10:13 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


I came to mention the Graeme Thorne case. That was a pretty good reason to change the law. It's not like that poor kid had any say over anything. It's not just the lottery winner themselves.

That said I'd take the money. But I'm pretty much a loner anyway, I could go off on a 6 month trip til the fuss died down. It would be relentless to be active in a community and have this known about you.
posted by kitten magic at 11:42 PM on February 6


But they wished to. And you know the old saying about wishes. It goes “Buy the ticket, take the ride”

sorry, just to double check as it sounds hilariously insane, but are you literally saying that you believe people who idly buy a lottery ticket one day do so because they consciously wish that they/their families had earned their money off of the death and suffering of others? like the little old lady who buys a dollar scratch off ticket is fantasizing about owning slaves? this is your Big Idea? just wondering.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:59 PM on February 6 [9 favorites]


Typical rich person, doesn't believe the laws should apply to them /s
posted by um at 3:05 AM on February 7


If you balk at the odds of winning the lottery you now have the more pleasant option of pursuing the photo of Barry Manilow's asshole. Similar chances of sudden wealth but it is a one off "done and dusted" task.
posted by Meatbomb at 4:39 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Aramaic (or other potential proxies): what's the lowest price you would accept to publicly pretend to be the big winner and protect the real winner? I know you said "half" but would you do it for $10 million? $4 million? Assume that taxes and administration are taken care of but your share has to purchase all the cars/trips/booze/etc.
posted by Easy problem of consciousness at 6:03 AM on February 7


With half a billion I'd take extreme pleasure from driving all airbnb rent-seekers to financial oblivion while cackling from the top of a middle-finger shaped compound.

In fact, a middle-finger shaped compound is exactly what I would do with that kind of money.
posted by lmfsilva at 6:08 AM on February 7


-Hello, state lottery commission? I'm holding a $500 million ticket in my hand and am getting ready to cash it in. Once I cash it in, you have two choices:

1) I can be described as an "unnamed winner", collect my winnings, and go about my life.
2) You can publish my name and personal information, at which point I will commence a $50 million "Lotteries are for idiots" advertising campaign, putting a billboard near every convenience store in the state explaining what a ripoff the lottery is. Just for reference, you spent $2.3 million on advertising last year.

I expect your answer by Tuesday.
posted by Hatashran at 6:08 AM on February 7 [15 favorites]


The risk of kidnapping is higher because moronic criminals pay attention to the lottery. You might get a lot of press all at once. That said, the risk is not very high and you can now afford security.

I play the lottery on occasion for the same reasons- it would be hella fun to have no financial worries. Half a billion? I could help out a couple family members who need it. My grandkids' kids wouldn't worry about education. New cars for some lucky people in my life. I'd build a family compound of the most energy-efficient not-very-big houses. My job would be managing the trust that gives away the money and tries to solve problems. I could get advice from Bill and Melinda.

You don't read about the lottery winners who keep their mouths shut, make a plan, and carry on with their now very comfortable lives. If you were stupid about money before, that's not going to change. But with a little effort, I could live up to the occupation in my profile, my dream occupation.

She needs a lawyer who will help her make a plan, and maybe a counselor to help her stop freaking out. She could very publicly put most of it in a charitable trust, pay off her mortgage, and live her life. Yes, her life will change. Lives change, and this one is better than most.
posted by theora55 at 6:13 AM on February 7 [4 favorites]


Hmmm, I wonder what would be more pleasant: fantasizing about how I'd handle a big lottery win, or engaging in an online pile-on about the ingratitude of a lottery winner.

(the lotteries win, either way)
posted by Artful Codger at 6:36 AM on February 7


the photo of Barry Manilow's asshole. Similar chances of sudden wealth but it is a one off "done and dusted" task.

This is like the "underpants gnomes" plan, except it requires no underpants. A brilliant economization!
posted by Coventry at 7:22 AM on February 7


As somebody mentioned, in Delaware you can remain anonymous, and looking at this list of "winner" press releases, most people do. Though they do seem to give enough info about them that people could guess who they are, especially in small towns.
posted by interplanetjanet at 7:58 AM on February 7


I didn't realize that setting up a trust was so quick

All of my assests are in a living trust in the US. It took basically no time to set up - could be done in a week or less depending on how quick you can get a lawyer to move.
posted by jeoc at 8:06 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Everyone in this topic that's opined about how they would be so much better and wise with the money and how the lottery wouldn't change them at all, just know that I'm mentally adding on "And I would totally store my pee in these lovely jars!" at the end of your comment.
posted by FJT at 8:39 AM on February 7 [11 favorites]


“Money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you a yacht big enough to pull up right alongside it.
-David Lee Roth
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:52 AM on February 7 [5 favorites]


I love how we know pretty much nothing about this anonymous woman, but we know enough to think she's a jerk who is refusing to accept personal responsibility for the mess she's gotten into

Well, all she did was pay for a ticket and got a half billion dollars she didn't earn. It's a once I a lifetime gift.

All she has to is let people -- who helped fund her windfall, know who she is to be reassured that money has been given to the right person.

And that isn't good enough for her.

She may not be a jerk, but she is being short-sighted and difficult, and her actions are creating ill-will. If being exposed as being wealthy is that big of a burden for her and any lifestyle change isn't convenient, she can donate the entire sum to others whose lives would be transformed by that largesse. Don't play the lottery if that's a problem.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 8:55 AM on February 7 [3 favorites]


"And I would totally store my pee in these lovely jars!"

There's nothing wrong with the jars I already have.
posted by InfidelZombie at 10:48 AM on February 7 [5 favorites]


While there are excellent reasons to name lottery winners, what with the extensive history of cheating and theft, given that they for some reason allow anonymous trusts for this lottery it's hard to argue that being uninformed of the details is a really good reason to allow the signing to make the difference.

I'm inclined to think anonymous trusts shouldn't be allowed at all, of course.
posted by tavella at 10:57 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


There's nothing wrong with the jars I already have.

"Kleenex boxes make fine slippers." --InfidelHettyGreenZombie (someday)
posted by rhizome at 11:40 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I thought the problem was that anyone with hundreds of millions of dollars was automatically an enemy of the people, or are we not using that kind of inflammatory rhetoric any more?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 11:48 AM on February 7


Hatashran:
Hello, state lottery commission? ... You can publish my name and personal information, at which point I will commence a $50 million "Lotteries are for idiots" advertising campaign, putting a billboard near every convenience store in the state explaining what a ripoff the lottery is. Just for reference, you spent $2.3 million on advertising last year.
You do realize that this is something the lottery commission will not and should not be the final arbitrator on? Their job is to follow the law of Maine, and the lottery rules specified within. Allowing them to decide which bits of that law to follow would open the lottery up to even more potential corruption.

It's the job of judges to interpret the law. I think it's quite likely that in the end the judiciary will decide the part of the law that allows anonymous trusts should override the part of the law that says the name signed on the back of the ticket is the one announced. But that's who should be making the decision, not the lottery commission.
posted by tavella at 12:31 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Of course. But the legislature is in session and perhaps could be persuaded to change the law if a few hundred million of lottery revenue is on the line. You'd probably be better off calling them.
posted by Hatashran at 12:45 PM on February 7


Frankly, I would hope that the legislature would ignore such a request, rich people already get entirely too much law customized for them. Or even better, respond by removing the anonymous trust option entirely.

If not claimed, the money will simply roll over to a future prize, and I assure you that a half billion plus pot will draw far, far more ticket buyers than any billboard campaign would dissuade.
posted by tavella at 12:55 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


"Don't play the lottery if that's a problem."

People don't play the lottery to win a half a billion dollars. People play the lottery so they can dream of winning money. Every rational person that plays the lottery knows they aren't going to win (yeah, that sounds weird in a number of ways), they are playing to have hope, hope that they won't be living in fear of financial ruin anymore, in fear of a single medical incident that will ruin them and their families forever, hope that they can get out of crushing debt (in many cases).

A lottery ticket is in some ways a way to go on what my mother calls a 'hippy vacation' (where you daydream of the place you want to go).

I understand the instinct to hate on the stupid wealthy - literally no one worth a half a billion dollars has ever 'earned' that money. Weirdly though, lottery winners are the only rich people that are actually aware they haven't earned their money. They haven't gotten their riches by exploiting people (you could argue fellow ticket buyers are exploited - but that's by the state the runs the lottery, not the winners of the lottery), there is no blood on their hands for their riches. And for the most part, none of them are delusional enough to think that they 'deserve' that money and certainly not 'earned' it.

If you're going to hate on lottery winners, you might as well hate on the lottery losers as well, they come from the same pool, and were the same people until a bit of luck made it otherwise.

Will they be 'responsible' with that newfound wealth? Oh, probably not, it's probably near impossible to be 'responsible' with such wealth (give it away? to whom? no matter how lovely the charity is that you find you'll find large group of people that have significant problems with that charity).

I'm not trying to defend the wealthy, but I am certainly in favor of giving a charitable reading of those literally poor folks that wished upon a monkey's paw and now have the wealth that they probably won't manage well. Don't get me wrong, I'm under no illusions I'd manage half a billion dollars in any reasonable way if you gave it to me (20 million, maybe).
posted by el io at 2:00 PM on February 7 [8 favorites]


I'm not trying to defend the wealthy, but I am certainly in favor of giving a charitable reading of those literally poor folks that wished upon a monkey's paw and now have the wealth that they probably won't manage well.

Sure... but it is a 'problem' that contains the resources for its own solution as well. We all hear about the winners who piss it all away, or the elevated threat, but for every cautionary tale, I suspect there are several who we don't hear about, who have coped just fine.

So, sure it probably is unfair of us to sneer and laugh at the NH woman's first-world problems... but it's an avoidable problem (don't collect the winnings), or manageable (a few hundred mil buys a personal assistant, and a lot of protection and relocation), and I personally feel that lotteries need transparancy on who won to be seen as fair and above board.

It's my understanding that some lotteries might even try to provide initial guidance to winners? Anyway, decent advice is available.
posted by Artful Codger at 6:53 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


We all hear about the winners who piss it all away, or the elevated threat, but for every cautionary tale, I suspect there are several who we don't hear about, who have coped just fine.

Again, the majority of the research says that most lottery winners are not murdered, are not kidnapped and held for ransom, are doing just fine, and living normal lives. Even the ones that go 'bankrupt'- they aren't distinguishing between personal and business bankruptcy. Our current President has gone business bankrupt (I think). Business bankruptcy doesn't mean you don't have any personal money.

People don't play the lottery to win a half a billion dollars.
This makes no sense. Of course people play to win, but they also understand the odds. Managing money is not some curse. It's no different than high school seniors imagining their own life after college - it's not something you've experienced so it's different than what you imagine.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:18 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]


One other thing I know from someone who won a 20 year prize - every year, a flood of offers from organizations that will trade your structured prize payment for a lump sum payoff. I don't know how egregiously bad the deal is, but I assume it's done by the same people who set rates for payday loans.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:05 AM on February 8


It's my understanding that some lotteries might even try to provide initial guidance to winners? Anyway, decent advice is available.

Your link includes this advice:
The first precautionary step you should take between now and the drawing is to sign the back of the ticket, says Carolyn Hapeman, a spokeswoman for The New York Lottery. A lottery ticket is a bearer instrument, she explains, meaning that whoever signs the ticket and presents a photo ID can claim the prize.
Which is exactly the issue the powerball winner is suing over.
posted by peeedro at 8:14 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Step 0: rent a safety deposit box and store unsigned ticket there
Step 1: retain a lawyer to advise you of rights re: anonymity
etc
posted by AFABulous at 12:46 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Don't play the lottery if that's a problem.

But surely the same can be said for those who believe the lottery can be rigged - the people who think that the authorities are corrupt and will rig it can choose not to play the lottery, and those who play it are willing to take that risk?

I really don’t get the hostility towards this person wanting to retain their privacy, but perhaps that’s because I live in a country where privacy for lottery winners is an accepted right, and we rely on effective regulation to ensure corruption doesn’t happen. I don’t remember there ever being an issue or scandal around misappropriation of lottery funds here.
posted by andraste at 1:55 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


It's not generally the lottery board or the 'authorities' that is the issue, it's things like low level employees hacking code or identifying which tickets will be winners and diverting them before they go on sale, store clerks stealing winning tickets, people running workplace lottery pools claiming the ticket as their own, etc. All of which are a lot easier to identify if the public knows who won. I would guess at least some of the above have happened in your country as well, it's just no one ever knew; regulation won't help with the cleverclogs who quietly pockets the winning ticket they brought with the workplace pool money and so on.
posted by tavella at 3:06 PM on February 8


Our current President has gone business bankrupt (I think).

Not to pick on you in any way, The_Vegetables, I just feel like more people should know: 45's businesses have filed for bankruptcy half a dozen times.
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:07 PM on February 8


Your link includes this advice:

[sign the ticket]

Which is exactly the issue the powerball winner is suing over.


As the article makes clear, an unsigned winning ticket is as good as cash. Signing it ASAP is one sensible way to establish ownership. Of course, you can also keep the unsigned ticket in a safe, put in a safety-deposit box, etc.

She's fighting for a do-over for the signing, because she's since found out she could have formed a trust. Question... how hard would it be for a really determined chiseler to find out who formed the trust?

Another question... how are her family and friends NOT going to find out? Who would win a few hundred million and NOT live larger? Secret cliff house in Monaco? Gee, Jane's sure away quite a bit...
posted by Artful Codger at 5:17 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Some people are just frugal. I once had a neighbour who heated his home with busted pallets; lived in a little basement suite; had his bed on stilts because it was warmer near the ceiling; had a city lot worth of garden; rode a barely functional bicycle; bought all his clothes at the thrift store and basically wore those till they were see thru. You would have thought he was living on social security/welfare.

Wasn't till he died we found out from his sister that he a couple mil in the bank and owned outright 5 lots (4 houses) on our street including the one he lived in.
posted by Mitheral at 8:27 PM on February 8


I really don’t get the hostility towards this person wanting to retain their privacy

I don't think that's causing any opposition. I think reading the sentiment as 'change the rules for me, now that I'm rich' is triggering the push back. Without the rule change request I doubt anyone would complain.

Also I assume different privacy intuitions. I mean, you can see my name on public records for my house and figure out how much I paid. I'm sure my neighbors know how much I put down in cash, too, because I'm not wealthy enough to afford a confidentiality clause with other people I do business with. Not sure why winning a half-billion in a public lottery should be more private than routine business.

There's a lot at play and it's not like I don't understand why people who are siding with her, or how it's a slightly different situation than other rich people. But I'm also fascinated by how little a shift in framing it takes to really get a lot sympathy for the hardships of the now-ultra-rich person. If almost any other type of rich person wanted rules changed--say, a corporate officer saying salary shouldn't be public--arguments like "their children are at risk" wouldn't even be floated. Let alone "think how inconvenient it would be with all the scroungers asking for money." But I guess it's easier for people to see themselves in the lottery ticket winner.

Incidentally, I actually had a billionaire's kid intern for someone who worked for me. Their father was a CEO and income (if not net worth) was a matter of public record. The kid didn't have round the clock security, or any security whatsoever beyond (I assume) a home alarm system. As far as I know they were in normal student housing when they went back to college.
posted by mark k at 11:53 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


The argument that "she now has the money to make the problems go away" is assuming that the power for the generational rich comes from money alone. If you handed me a billion dollars, would I be familiar enough with wealth to know I need body guards? Would I know where to get them? I'd probably Google "good bodyguards Austin" but for some reason I don't think that's how you find the legitimate ones.

It's like first generation college students getting scholarships. They have the same brains and tuition money, but they still are less successful statistically because they don't have people they trust modelling success for them and providing them with non-monetary resources.
posted by tofu_crouton at 3:36 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]




I am amazed by all the vitriol directed at this woman for having the nerve to spend a couple bucks and win the lottery. What the barkin' hell, peeps?

She may not be a jerk, but she is being short-sighted and difficult, and her actions are creating ill-will.

In whom is she instilling ill-will? You? Me? Not me. Not most people out there, I'd bet. She doesn't owe "the people who funded her windfall" a damned thing - spending a dollar on a game of chance doesn't entitle one to stuff one's nose into the business of the winner of that game of chance.

Certainly, I don't consider wanting to retain your ability to go about in public unharassed as "short-sighted" in the slightest. How is not wanting your name and image splashed all over the papers and TV for merely winning the lottery "short-sighted"? What are the long-term benefits of letting someone else wave your money around? I mean, if you want to do it, fine, but would you really want to be forced to let someone else do it?

Trust and believe that if one of my occasional tickets ever hit, I'd be claiming it through a trust precisely with an eye on the long term - my abusive egg donor would be hauling her ass up here with her 5th? 6th? husband so fast to make sure everyone knew she birthed me, and to badger me yet again to reconcile...and give her money. (She finds a way to contact me every few years. Thankfully, I've raised my boys to adulthood without them ever having met her, even by accident. I want to keep it that way. I can't stop looking over my goddamned shoulder til her obituary shows up and I know she's good and dead.) Sure, someone could go searching through the court records to find out who is behind a trust. Fine. If they want to know that badly, they can make the effort. I want to buy my winery and establish my dog sanctuary in peace. Why yes, I have daydreamed!

If I hit it big in Atlantic City or Vegas - or Detroit, even! - I wouldn't be required to have my identity splashed all over the media. Why should a lottery windfall be any different?
posted by MissySedai at 7:32 AM on February 10 [4 favorites]


"Why should a lottery windfall be any different?"

One possible answer to this question is that the rules of the lottery are different. Just saying.
posted by kevinbelt at 11:33 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


That's not quite true, which is why she's suing. The rules explicitly allow claiming your winnings anonymously through a trust.

The tickets, however, don't disclose this. She followed instructions, and now she's being jerked around for following the incomplete instructions printed on the ticket.

Just sayin'.
posted by MissySedai at 6:29 AM on February 11 [6 favorites]


If I hit it big in Atlantic City or Vegas - or Detroit, even! - I wouldn't be required to have my identity splashed all over the media. Why should a lottery windfall be any different?

When I mentioned different privacy expectations this is basically what I meant. I'm having trouble imagining a scenario where a half-billion dollar windfall is not news, and I certainly don't think one could expect to be anonymous if you hit that kind of money at Caesar's Palace. You'd be a friggin' wedge in their quarterly report's pie chart on losses, and the biggest one at that. Even if they keep your name secret* as a matter of corporate policy (and maybe local regulation) everyone else there will be talking about it, and "So-and-so breaks bank Caesar's" is a great story that will go viral and get an FPP here too.

I mentioned property records and disclosure of salaries on publicly traded firms, but when the state is involved far smaller amounts are routinely disclosed. I can look up the names and salaries of everyone at my local high school.

For me the bottom line is that money is real world power and keeping it secret helps most the people with the most. People with that much power will be criticized for their decisions, sure, but that's a good thing. There are apparently countries where everyone's income is public. Again, it's not that the pro-privacy sentiment is alien to me, but for me it's like asking for special treatment because she's now super rich.


*Not that they would. I'm sure for a half-billion they'd find some flimsy pretense to sue, and accuse you of cheating, and your name and everything a private detective could dig up would be in public court records that way.
posted by mark k at 9:43 PM on February 13 [2 favorites]


This would be so much easier in the future if they raised the odds of winning.
posted by rhizome at 11:16 PM on February 13


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