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Call Her Jane Dough: New Hampshire Lottery Winner Can Stay Anonymous, Court Says

Cashiers in Merrimack, N.H., sell a lottery ticket at Reeds Ferry Market convenience store in January. A woman who bought the winning ticket there won the $559.7 million jackpot and now has won the right to remain anonymous.
Steven Senne

A New Hampshire lottery winner can keep her cash andher anonymity, a judge has ruled.

The winner of a $560 million Powerball jackpot in January had signed her ticket with her name, as instructed by the state lottery website. That would make her name public.

She later realized that if she had signed it with the name of a trust instead, she could have kept her identity secret. But lottery officials said she couldn't change her mind.

The winner went to court, saying in her complaint she had made "a huge mistake" and asking to keep her name out of the headlines.

On Monday, the Hillsborough County Superior Court Southern District gave Jane Doe another win.

New Hampshire Public Radio reports that the ruling "could shift legal precedent in New Hampshire":

"Currently, the front and back of winning lottery tickets are considered public documents and thus subject to the state's Right to Know laws. The Lottery Commission argued in court last month this ensures transparency in the lottery system, and can't be sidelined simply due to the size of the jackpot or reluctance of the winner.

"Lawyers for the winner, identified only as Jane Doe, argued that releasing the ticket — and therefore the winner's name and address — would do little to ensure a clean lottery system, and would instead subject her to unwanted attention. ...

"In his ruling Monday, Judge Charles Temple says that only the hometown of Ms. Doe can be released, citing her "strong privacy interest."

"A lawyer with the New Hampshire Attorney General's office, which argued the case on behalf of the Lottery Commission, says it is still reviewing the decision and can't yet comment on a possible appeal."

William Shaheen, one of the lottery winner's attorneys, said the woman was delighted with the decision.

"She was jumping up and down," Shaheen said in a statement. "She will be able to live her life normally."

The lottery winner collected her prize last week, without yet knowing whether she would be allowed to keep her name confidential, as NPR reported at the time:

"The winner opted to take the prize in a lump sum of $264 million after taxes, rather than an annuity paid out over 30 years, the lottery said in a statement.

"Nearly $250,000 was immediately donated to local nonprofits, including $150,000 to and $33,000 to each of three New Hampshire chapters of .

"What little I can say is that she and her family have had a long-standing commitment to their community and are thrilled to be able to enhance their impact through targeted philanthropy for generations to come," Shaheen said.

" 'While we don't know the winner's identity, we do know that her heart is in the right place,' Charlie McIntyre, executive director of the New Hampshire Lottery, said in a statement. 'These substantial donations are an indication of her generosity and they will make a significant difference in the lives of many throughout our community.' "

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.
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