The privacy rights of lottery winners are receiving new scrutiny after the recent poisoning of lottery winner Urooj Khan in Chicago, who appears to have been killed the day after his $1 million scratch-off ticket won.
The varying options for lottery winners were highlighted after the recent $588 million Powerball jackpot. Two winning tickets for the record jackpot were presented after the Nov. 28 drawing: A Missouri couple appeared at a press conference and held up the traditional giant-sized check. The Arizona winner, however, skipped the press conference where lottery officials announced last month that someone had claimed the second half of the prize.
The differing approach to releasing information on the winners reflects a broader debate that is playing out in state Legislatures and lottery offices nationwide: Should the winners’ names be secret?
Lawmakers in Michigan and New Jersey think so, proposing bills to allow anonymity because winners are prone to falling victim to scams, shady businesses, greedy distant family members and violent criminals looking to shake them down.
Lotteries object, arguing that publicizing the winners’ names drives sales and that having their names released ensures that people know there isn’t something fishy afoot, like a game rigged so a lottery insider wins.
When players see that an actual person won, “it has a much greater impact than when they might read that the lottery paid a big prize to an anonymous player,” said Andi Brancato, director of public relations for the Michigan state lottery. [Read More]