A woman who won a nearly $560 million Powerball jackpot in the State of New Hampshire has been granted the right to remain anonymous. Under state lottery rules, winners’ identity should be disclosed, which according to some, retains the transparency and integrity of the lottery.
The New Hampshire Lottery said Monday that it would not appeal the court decision, according to which the woman owning a $559.7 million Powerball ticket can keep her identity private. The woman, referred to as Jane Dow, won the jackpot in the January 6 drawing and after signing her lucky ticket, she found out that she could have shielded her identity. Instead of providing her name, she could have written the name of a trust, her lawyers say.
Apparently, she wanted to remain anonymous so she filed a lawsuit to have the State Lottery hide her name from the public. Last week, Judge Charles Temple of the Hillsborough County Superior Court ruled that releasing her name would be an invasion of privacy. Still, the New Hampshire Lottery can disclose her hometown, the court adds. The winner’s lawyer, William Shaheen of Shaheen & Gordon, P.A., says that she is from the town of Merrimack, located some 30 miles from State Capital Concord.
According to media reports, the lucky woman has already donated around $250,000 to various charities and she plans to make more donations. Her attorneys say that she hopes to donate $25 million to $50 million of her post-donation winnings, which would be around $264 million.
The Lottery Curse: A Myth or Something More?
In his ruling, Judge Temple says that if the woman’s identity were disclosed, she would become victim to „harassment, solicitation and other unwanted communications”. The winner’s lawyers also said that a large number of cases of lottery winners’ bad experiences existed due to making their identities public. In fact, it is widely believed that winning a huge jackpot can bring you bad luck.
While many consider the so-called „Lottery Curse” merely a myth, there are multiple instances of lottery winners who, after winning big, declare bankruptcy, become victims of fraud or worse, or commit suicide. On Christmas morning, back in 2002, U.S. businessman Andrew “Jack” Whittaker won the Powerball jackpot worth $314.9 million, which was the largest jackpot ever won at the time.
Only several months after that, he was robbed – thieves took $545,000 in cash from his car. In a second incident, $200,000 were taken from his car. That same year, his granddaughter’s boyfriend was found dead in Whittaker’s home and within a few months, Brandi’s, his granddaughter, was also found dead under suspicious circumstances. In the following years, multiple lawsuits were filed against the winner and his company; he lost almost everything, and seven years after the big win, his daughter died. In 2016, Whittaker’s house burnt in a fire and later, his wife filed for divorce.
In 1997, Billie Bob Harrell won $31million in the Texan lottery and donated huge amounts of money to various charities. At one point, people started to come to his front door asking for money, so he and his family decided to move. He was also forced to change his phone number to avoid requests from strangers. Two years after winning, he divorced and shot himself. These are two of the less disturbing stories linked to the Lottery Curse – there are even more cases that ended with tragedies, mysterious deaths, and murder.