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With the Mega Millions lottery drawing approaching, players may be wondering how to protect their safety and identity if one of them is the lucky winner.
No one has matched the numbers in the last Mega Millions drawing. That raised the jackpot to $1 billion as of Thursday.
This massive prize is likely to draw attention to any winner(s) whose identities are revealed – leaving them vulnerable to theft and other security compromises.
However, public disclosure laws actually vary from state to state, according to Mega Millions.
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The lottery website states that “some countries require their lotteries to publicly identify winners, while others do not.” “Check with the lottery in your jurisdiction.”
Below are a number of US states among the 45 participating Mega Millions countries where winners can be anonymous.
(This list is subject to change as more states have been pushing for legislation protecting the identities of lottery winners.)
What countries in America allow Mega Millions winners to be anonymous?
The names of people (or legally formed entities) who win $600 or more are kept confidential for 90 days from the date the prize is awarded, according to the Arizona Lottery.
The winners were also not revealed in public records during that period.
Winners of $100,000 or more may choose to have their names permanently confidential. However, the prize winner’s city and county of residence are not classified, according to Arizona law.
Delaware law allows winners to remain anonymous, according to Delaware Lottery Games.
If someone wins a lottery prize of $250,000 or more, that person may remain anonymous.
The Kansas Lottery Organization says winners may request that their names and residency be kept secret, “Kansas Lottery is pleased to honor this request,” the organization says on its website.
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Lottery winners are entitled to remain anonymous in Maryland, according to the state lottery organization.
“We do not disclose the name or photograph of any such winner unless the winner specifically gives us written consent to do so,” the Maryland website states.
After the bill was passed in 2021, the names and cities of lottery winners who took home a prize of more than $10,000 are unknown unless the winner chooses to make it public.
The Mississippi Lottery will not reveal the identity of a lottery winner without that person’s written permission, in accordance with Alyce G. Clarke Mississippi Lottery Code.
By law, the Missouri Lottery cannot publish the names of lottery winners without their prior consent, according to the state’s lottery website.
The name of the winner of the Montana lottery has not been announced.
The Montana Lottery also says it does not reveal winners’ names without the winner’s permission.
For prizes over $1 million claimed since the 2020 legislation, the New Jersey Lottery allows winners to choose to remain anonymous.
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On January 21, 2020, the New Jersey Lottery law was changed so that winners can choose to remain anonymous indefinitely, “and the identity of winners will not be included in materials available for public inspection under the state’s Open Public Records Act,” the Jersey Lottery stated. In a 2021 press release.
In North Dakota, winners may choose to disclose their information or remain anonymous.
Anonymity is also granted in Ohio.
In South Carolina, the winners may remain unknown.
However, in 2021, the freedom of anonymity was challenged by a man who submitted an open records request to the State Lottery Commission; He was searching for the names, contact information, date and jackpot amounts of winners of $1 million or more for 12 months in 2013 and 2014, according to the Associated Press (AP).
At first, the state Supreme Court sided with the man.
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The committee then filed a lawsuit against the man. A judge has ruled that release of “winners’ personally identifiable information would constitute an unreasonable breach of personal privacy” within the meaning of the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act, according to the Associated Press.
The judge also prevented the man from continuing to seek information from any source.
Although this wasn’t always possible in Texas, lottery winners can now remain anonymous.
Specifically, a person who wins a lottery prize of $1 million or more is eligible to remain anonymous, according to a 2017 ad posted by the Texas Lottery.
Effective July 1, 2019, a law in Virginia allows prize winners of more than $10 million to choose not to be identified — which means the winner’s name and whereabouts are not disclosed to the public, according to the Virginia Lottery.
West Virginia law also takes effect in 2019, and allows winners to remain anonymous as long as the prize won is $1 million or more.
“Other winners are announced and included in the winning database at wvlottery.com,” the state lottery website says.
The Wyoming Lottery Corporation says it will honor requests for anonymity from lottery winners.
How can I anonymously claim a lottery prize if my state doesn’t allow it?
Alternatively, winners may be able to form a blind trust through their attorney so that winnings can be received anonymously, advises State Farm.
The insurance company says that lottery winners must keep the news they won confidential before handing over the ticket.
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Winners must also be willing to change their contact information.
This is because many lotteries share names or require interviews or participation in a press conference for reasons of transparency.
State Farm also warns that lottery winners must read the rules and contract of each game before signing the winning ticket.
“In some cases, signing your ticket may prevent you from creating a blind trust later,” notes the insurance company’s article “What to do if you win the lottery.”
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A financial advisor in the New York City area recommended placing the ticket in a bank safe deposit box until the winners complete consultations with their legal and financial advisors.
Also, this advisor said to understand the rules within your own state about whether or not you can remain anonymous. “It’s very important,” he said.
Be sure to visit your state’s official lottery page for more information.
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The next Mega Millions drawing is on Friday at 11:00 PM EST.
Courtney Moore and Maureen Mackie of Fox News Digital contributed to this report.