A woman who won a $559.7 million Powerball jackpot will get her money as a legal fight over releasing her identity plays out in court.
In a court filing on Thursday, the New Hampshire Lottery Commission approved the payment to a trust the woman set up. The winning ticket will be placed in a secure location until a court decides whether it’s subject to the state’s Right to Know Law.
Lawyers for the woman, identified as Jane Doe, say she signed the back of the ticket following the Jan. 6 drawing, the nation’s eighth-largest lottery jackpot, without realizing it would result in her name and address being made public. Under New Hampshire law, a lottery winner’s name, town and prize amount are public information.
Her resulting dilemma – forgo either a once-in-a-lifetime payday, or her anonymity – is legally impermissible, according to her attorney.
"She is a longtime resident of New Hampshire and is an engaged community member," the woman’s attorney wrote in court documents. "She wishes to continue this work and the freedom to walk into a grocery store or attend public events without being known or targeted as the winner of a half-billion dollars."
Publicity brings significant apparent risk to lottery winners. Two years ago, a Georgia forklift operator who won $434,272 in a lottery was executed in his home by several masked robbers as he pleaded for his life.
In 2012, a 46-year-old Chicago man was poisoned with cyanide the day after he won a $1 million lottery prize. While family members were suspected in the death, none have ever been charged, and the case remains unsolved.
And in 2005, an Illinois jackpot winner who claimed a prize of about $20 million was murdered by his sister-in-law and her boyfriend.
The Associated Press contributed to this report