Ever wonder what it would be like to wake up one morning, check the numbers on the lottery ticket you bought yesterday and find that you’re suddenly a millionaire? Most of us don’t get much past the dreaming stage there, but that might be for the best, for that dream can well turn into a nightmare.
Jane Doe just won over a half billion dollars … $560 million, to be precise. But whether Jane ever sees so much as a dollar of that money depends on her willingness to give up her privacy and perhaps even place her life in jeopardy. Tough decision, yes?
Ms. Doe won the Powerball lottery jackpot in New Hampshire, where lottery rules require that her name be made public. I see you’re thinking, “okay, so what?”, but let’s take a look at what has befallen past lottery winners after the initial shock wore off.
In November 2015, Craigory Burch Jr. matched all five numbers in the Georgia Fantasy 5 drawing and won a $434,272 jackpot. Two months later, Craigory was dead, after seven masked men kicked in his front door and murdered him in front of his girlfriend and children.
Abraham Shakespeare won a $30 million lottery prize in 2006. Shakespeare quickly grew frustrated with the constant appeals for money from both friends and strangers. He told his brother, “I’d have been better off broke.” Two years later, he was approached by Dorice “Dee Dee” Moore, who said she was writing a book about how people were taking advantage of him. She soon became his financial adviser and slowly siphoned away his money. In November of 2009 his family reported that they had not seen nor heard from him for seven months. His body was found buried under 9 feet of dirt under a newly constructed concrete slab. Ms. Moore is currently serving a life sentence, and Mr. Shakespeare never made it past age 42.
Other winners have reported that reporters and camera crews wait outside their homes, following them everywhere they go, strangers come knocking at their doors asking for money, and of course the phone calls, scammers, are non-stop.
Lottery commissions in many states require that the person’s name must be made public before he/she can collect their winnings, and some states even require that the winner submit to being paraded before the public on television in a public relations ad. The reason is stated to be to protect the integrity of the lottery and quell the voices of those who might otherwise claim the game is rigged. In reality, such publicity draws more people to buy tickets, thus increasing profits.
But on the other side of the coin, it hardly seems fair that the winner has to basically change their name and move to another state in order to protect their privacy, their winnings, and perhaps even their very lives.
Jane Doe has petitioned the court in Merrimack, New Hampshire, to allow her to remain anonymous, but my best guess is that she will not win that argument. Unfortunately, she already signed the back of the lottery ticket, as advised on the lottery website. Had she not done so, she could have legally established a trust to collect the money for her, thereby preserving her privacy.
Why am I writing about this today, you ask? Because as I trolled the news this morning, I quickly became tired of seeing you-know-who’s picture and name on every story, and when I saw this one, I felt great empathy for Jane Doe, for I would be the same … I would not wish my name made public if I had more than my usual few dollars in the bank. I pictured myself going out and purchasing a really big, solid baseball bat to bash the heads of any who came to my door. And then, I pictured myself in an orange jumpsuit sitting behind bars. I hope Jane Doe has better luck.
Meanwhile, since it never hurts to dream a little bit … I know what I would do if I won $500 million … what about you?