Can a winner remain anonymous?
Each state that participates in Mega Millions oversees lottery operations within its jurisdiction, including sales, retailers, taxes due and other financial liabilities. Laws, including whether winners’ names must be announced, differ by state.
In Illinois, winners of $250,000 or more can request to keep their name and location anonymous when claiming their winnings. However, the information may still need to be revealed if a public records request is submitted or if the Illinois Lottery is legally mandated to do so, the agency writes in its manual.
Marie Kilbane of the Ohio Lottery said in her state that includes whether a winner owes child support. “Internally, we verify who this person is,” she said. “With all our winners.”
Ohio is one of at least seven states that allow winners, who might be suspicious of fraud or become the target of crime, to hide their identities. Others include Delaware, Maryland, Kansas, North Dakota and South Carolina. States differ in the conditions under which they allow winners to remain anonymous or whether they can collect in the name of a trust, she said.
In Texas, a winner of $1 million or more can remain anonymous. In Arizona, winners of $100,000 or more can choose anonymity, but their city and county of residence are not confidential. In California, the names of winners are part of the public record. Some states, such as Michigan, do not allow a trust for multi-state lotteries such as Mega Millions or Powerball.
Not all lottery winners are required to show up to a press conference with a broad smile, clutching a giant fake check. Under its Open Records Act, the Wisconsin Lottery releases the winner’s name and city upon request. All other information, including media interviews, belongs to the winner.