Can I Remain Anonymous If I Win the Lottery?
It’s estimated that the odds of winning the lottery – a huge, multimillion-dollar jackpot, at least – is about 1 in 175 million. Even if you play every day, the chances of success aren’t great. However, billions of dollars in lottery winnings are paid out in Texas every year.
What happens if you get lucky and buy a scratch-off worth $1 million? What if you win seven figures when all six of your Lotto Texas numbers are picked? Can you accept your winnings and stay under the radar? Can you avoid having your name, picture, and jackpot published in the local paper? If you live in Texas, the answer might be yes. Your privacy can be protected if your winning jackpot is at least $1 Million.
6 Figure Texas Lottery Winners Don’t Have to Go Public
If you win big when you play the lottery in Texas, you might not have to disclose your name or any identifying information. Under HB 59, you can conceal your identity if you “win lottery prizes in the amount of $1 million or more.”
What information are you entitled to keep to yourself? According to Texas Lottery Commission Rule 401.324, the following information is subject to non-disclosure:
- Social security number
- Date of birth
- Government ID, such as a driver’s license or passport.
However, the state is free to publish the city and/or county where winning lottery tickets were sold. Details that might, “alone or in conjunction with other information,” disclose your identity are off-limits.
Non-Disclosure Might Only Apply to Lump Sum Payouts
If you win more than $1 Million when you play the lottery in Texas, you’ll generally have the option to keep your identity concealed. However, this rule only applies to “non-annuity” payouts.
Lump-Sum vs. Annuity Payouts
When you hit the jackpot you may be able to choose how you want to receive your winnings – in a lump sum or annuity. A lump sum (known as the “Cash Value Option”) means that you get all of your winnings at once. An annuity (known as “Annual Payments”)means that you get a series of equal payments over an extended period of time. The way you choose to receive your lottery winnings will have an impact on your taxes. It might also influence your ability to remain anonymous.
Let’s say you played the Mega Millions Jackpot and win $22 Million. When you buy the ticket, you have to choose whether you want to receive your winnings in a lump sum or over a period of 30 years. If you choose the lump sum option, you can remain anonymous. If you choose the annual payout, you’ll only be able to keep your name hidden from the public for 30 days.
When Do I Have to Choose Anonymity?
Texas state law only provides that your identity can be protected if you choose a lump sum cash payout. You’ll effectively choose whether or not you want to remain anonymous when you pick your payout option when you purchase your lottery ticket.
Why Would Texas Lottery Winners Want to Remain Anonymous?
A forklift operator won $434,000 when he played the Georgia lottery. He was killed two months later in a home invasion. Police believe that he was a “pre-selected target” because of his lotto winnings.
A West Virginia man won $314.9 Million when he played the lottery. In the months that followed, his car was broken into, his granddaughter died suspiciously, and his employees hatched a plot to drug and rob him.
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why you might want to keep your identity private if you win the lottery.
You might want to prevent old acquaintances or family members from crawling out of the woodwork and hitting you up for cash. You might want to stay under the radar so your home isn’t targeted by thieves. You might fear for your life or your family’s safety. Or, maybe you just want to keep living your life the way it is.
If you win big in Texas, you can potentially keep it quiet. However, it’s important to consult with an attorney to make sure you understand how the state’s laws might affect you.