Can a winner stay anonymous?
Each state that participates in Mega Millions oversees the lottery operations within its jurisdiction, including sales, retailers, taxes owed and other financial liabilities. The laws, including whether the names of winners are required to be announced, differ among states.
In Illinois, winners of $250,000 or more can request to keep their name and residence anonymous when they claim their earnings. However, the information may still have to be revealed if a public records request is submitted or the Illinois Lottery is legally mandated to do so, the agency writes in its handbook.
Marie Kilbane of the Ohio Lottery said that in her state, this includes whether a winner owes child support. “Internally, we do check whoever that person is,” she said. “With all our winners.”
Ohio is one of at least seven states that allow winners, who might be wary of fraud or of becoming targets of crime, to hide their identities. Others include Delaware, Maryland, Kansas, North Dakota and South Carolina. States differ in what conditions 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, like Michigan, do not allow a trust for multistate lotteries such as Mega Millions or Powerball.
Not all lottery winners are required to appear at a news conference with a broad grin, holding a giant fake check. Under its open records law, Wisconsin’s lottery releases the name and city of the winner on request. Any other information, including news media interviews, is up to the winner.