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can lottery winners remain anonymous in florida

Thinking of Going Off the Grid After Winning the Lottery? Not So Fast

Everyone dreams of it: having a small piece of paper with the right numbers printed on it and winning the life-changing $200 million, $700 million or $1 billion jackpot. But what happens after you win?

Many winners decide to remain anonymous — or at least try to — but that can be difficult when many states demand that the winners of large jackpots show their faces at news conferences.

At his own news conference in Madison, Wis., Manuel Franco, 24, who in a Powerball drawing last month won $768 million, the third-largest jackpot in United States lottery history, seemed to be trying not to divulge too much information about himself, perhaps to keep random family members from coming out of the woodwork. Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, he declined to say where he grew up, where he lived, what kind of car he drove or where he used to work. (He quit two days after winning.)

Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Texas, North Dakota and Ohio allow lottery winners to conceal their identities if the winnings exceed a certain dollar amount, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Other states, like New York, make it easy for winners to collect their prizes under the cover of an L.L.C. or an entity. But states like Wisconsin want winners to come forward to claim their prizes, although Wisconsin does not require them to appear at a news conference as Mr. Franco did.

After Mr. Franco’s $768 million win, “it seems a little ridiculous that there isn’t privacy when it comes to that,” Gary Tauchen, a Wisconsin state representative, said. “Certainly you have a lot of fourth and fifth cousins and it is just a situation when you’re under high stress.”

While Mr. Franco was answering questions about his lottery winnings as concisely as possible, Mr. Tauchen was introducing a bill seeking to ensure the privacy of lottery winners in Wisconsin.

“I know that it is one of those life-changing experiences when you need some time to adjust,” Mr. Tauchen said. “You don’t need the stress of other people putting pressure on you.”

And for jackpot winners like Mr. Franco, the pressure comes nearly immediately.

“For the next two weeks, people are going to be outside of his house,” Jason M. Kurland, a lawyer who has represented several winners of large lottery jackpots, said on Wednesday.

“I get those letters every week,” Mr. Kurland said, referring to the mail he receives intended for his clients. “They range from congratulatory letters to individuals having a tough time asking for handouts, to organizations looking for donations, to business men and women asking for investors.”

Mr. Kurland, who calls himself the Lottery Lawyer and represented the person in South Carolina who won the $1.54 billion Mega Millions jackpot last year, advises his clients to delete all their social media accounts before they claim their winnings. He also tells them to try to remove their address from public view as much as they can and to get new phone numbers. If there are children involved, he will hire security for the first couple of days.

Mr. Kurland tries to help his clients retain some privacy after they win, but if privacy is hard to achieve in 2019, anonymity is nearly impossible.

“It is very hard to participate in civil life and be anonymous,” Albert Gidari, the privacy director of the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School, said on Wednesday. “You can’t buy a car in cash and avoid disclosing who you are because now car dealers are financial institutions,” Mr. Gidari said, adding that it was nearly impossible to transfer money in and out of the United States without disclosing who you are to the government.

“He can get a lot of lawyers and accountants and figure out how to move and hide a lot of that money at great risk to himself for not complying with government reporting,” Mr. Gidari said. “You can’t get very far, but you can get far enough to get some degree of obscurity, even if you can’t get anonymity.”

Last year the winner of a $560 million Powerball jackpot in New Hampshire took the state to court to retain her anonymity while claiming her prize. The woman’s lawyers argued that she would be accosted with requests for money, and the state argued that lottery winners must be disclosed to make sure that winners are not related to lottery employees and that winnings are distributed fairly. The court decided disclosing the winner’s name would be an invasion of privacy and allowed the woman to anonymously claim her winnings.

“You want to be able to enjoy this crazy amount of money you luckily won, but at the same time you want to keep your privacy, so it’s a balance,” Mr. Kurland said.

But going off the grid, setting up shop on the beach and enjoying the fruits of your ticket are not necessarily possible without informing the government.

“If you leave the country, it’s worse,” Mr. Gidari said, adding that leaving the country and failing to report assets in the United States and abroad could lead to losing those assets.

Some states allow the winners of large jackpots to remain anonymous, but is it ever possible to retain your privacy after a life-changing windfall?

Can lottery winners remain anonymous in florida

ATTENTION PLAYERS: All Lottery offices are currently open to the public by appointment only for prizes valued at $600 or more.

Players with prizes valued at $600 or more can be mailed to the nearest Florida Lottery district office. Players with prizes valued at $250,000 or more can be mailed to Florida Lottery Headquarters.

To claim your prize by mail, simply mail the ticket(s) along with a Winner Claim Form and the documentation listed under the “Required Documentation” tab. Tickets mailed to Florida Lottery Headquarters or district offices are processed in approximately 30 – 45 days*.

If a Draw game ticket has been validated by a retailer and the prize was not paid, the envelope and its contents, including the winning ticket, must be postmarked on or before the 30th day after the claim deadline. If the ticket has not been validated by a retailer, the envelope and its contents must be postmarked on or before the claim deadline as detailed under the “Ticket Expiration” section below. If all required documentation is not received by the Lottery by the applicable extended claim date, the prize will be forfeited. All Florida MEGA MILLIONS, POWERBALL, CASH4LIFE, and Fast Play prizes must be claimed in Florida.

For Scratch-Off or Fast Play tickets that have been validated by a retailer, the envelope and its contents, including the winning ticket, must be postmarked on or before the 270th day after the official end of the game. If the Scratch-Off or Fast Play ticket has not been validated by a retailer, the envelope and its contents must be postmarked on or before the 240th day after the official game close. If all required documentation is not received by the Lottery by the applicable extended claim date, the prize will be forfeited.

NOTE: U.S. Postal Service regulations include various restrictions on mailing Lottery tickets. The risk of mailing tickets remains with the player and will not be assumed by the Lottery.

Tickets mailed to the Florida Lottery Headquarters will be processed in the order in which they are received by the claims processing department. Damaged, state owed debt and disputed tickets may take longer.

*Processing timeframes are a general estimate; actual processing time may vary.

Players with prizes valued at $600 or more can schedule claim appointments at Lottery offices.

Claim appointments are available Monday – Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., EST (Pensacola’s hours are 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., CST). The first hour of each day is reserved for players 65 and older and for those with serious underlying medical conditions.

For the safety of our employees and players:

  • In accordance with local ordinances, players must have a face covering to enter.
  • Mandatory health screenings will be conducted in accordance with DOH and CDC guidelines prior to allowing any player into a Lottery office.
  • To limit the number of people in an office at one time, players are asked to attend their claim appointment by themselves unless they require the assistance of another person for medical reasons.

Players with prizes valued at $600 or more can be claimed via secured drop box located inside any Florida Lottery district office.

To claim a prize via drop box, simply place the ticket(s) along with a Winner Claim Form and the documentation listed under the “Required Documentation” tab in an envelope and drop it off at Florida Lottery Headquarters or any district office. Tickets submitted via drop box to Florida Lottery Headquarters or district offices are processed in approximately 10 – 14 days*.

For the safety of our employees and players:

  • In accordance with local ordinances, players must have a face covering to enter.
  • Mandatory health screenings will be conducted in accordance with DOH and CDC guidelines prior to allowing any player into a Lottery office.

If a Draw game ticket has been validated by a retailer and the prize was not paid, the envelope and its contents, including the winning ticket, must be submitted on or before the 30th day after the claim deadline. If the ticket has not been validated by a retailer, the envelope and its contents must be submitted on or before the claim deadline as detailed under the “Ticket Expiration” section below. If all required documentation is not received by the Lottery by the applicable extended claim date, the prize will be forfeited. All Florida MEGA MILLIONS, POWERBALL, CASH4LIFE, and Fast Play prizes must be claimed in Florida.

For Scratch-Off or Fast Play tickets that have been validated by a retailer, the envelope and its contents, including the winning ticket, must be submitted on or before the 270th day after the official end of the game. If the Scratch-Off or Fast Play ticket has not been validated by a retailer, the envelope and its contents must be submitted on or before the 240th day after the official game close. If all required documentation is not received by the Lottery by the applicable extended claim date, the prize will be forfeited.

Tickets submitted via drop box to Florida Lottery Headquarters will be processed in the order in which they are received by the claims processing department. Damaged, state owed debt, and disputed tickets may take longer.

*Processing timeframes are a general estimate; actual processing time may vary.

To claim a prize of $600 or more, the player must:

  1. Complete a Florida Lottery Winner Claim Form.
  2. Present one form of identification that is current or was issued within the past five years and bears a serial number or other identifying number. If you are claiming via mail or secured drop box, provide a clear scanned copy of your identification.
    Acceptable forms of identification include:
    • An identification card or driver’s license issued by a public agency authorized to issue driver’s licenses in Florida, a state other than Florida, a territory of the U.S., Canada, or Mexico.
    • A passport issued by the U.S. Department of State.
    • A passport issued by a foreign government for non-annual payment option prizes & prizes that do not require a notarized affidavit.
    • A passport issued by a foreign government stamped by the United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services for annual payment option prizes or for prizes that require a notarized affidavit.
    • An identification card issued by any branch of the U.S. armed forces.
    • An identification card issued by the United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

PLAYERS SHOULD PROVIDE ALL DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED TO PAY A PRIZE AT THE TIME THE CLAIM IS FILED WITH THE LOTTERY.

Privacy Act Notice:

Under the Federal Privacy Act, disclosure of a person’s Social Security number is voluntary unless a Federal statute specifically requires such disclosure or allows states to collect the number. For claimants of Florida Lottery prizes valued at $600 or more, disclosure is required by 26 U.S.C. s. 3402 and 26 U.S.C. s. 6109 for tax withholding and reporting purposes. Social Security numbers will also be used to determine whether a claimant owes an outstanding debt to a state agency or child support collected through a court, pursuant to Section 24.115, Florida Statutes.

The deadlines for claiming prizes for Draw, Fast Play, and Scratch-Off games have been extended as follows:

  • Winning Draw game tickets for drawings occurring on or after September 24, 2019, and on or before June 20, 2020, must be claimed on or before the 360th day after the winning drawing.
  • Claimants of winning Draw game tickets for drawings occurring on or after June 21, 2020, and on or before December 17, 2020, will have up to 360 days to claim prizes depending on the draw dates. For each day after June 20, 2020, the 360-day claim period will decrease by one day until the claim period reaches the statutorily required 180 days. For a complete listing of applicable draw dates with associated extended claiming deadlines, please click here.
  • Winning Fast Play and Scratch-Off tickets must be claimed on or before the 240th day after the announced end of game for games ending on or after January 22, 2020, and on or before August 1, 2020.

Players also have the option to hold on to winning tickets and wait to claim any prizes until Lottery offices reopen to the public. For more information on the documents needed to claim a prize, click here.

For faster payment, Florida Lottery winners should complete the information on the back of their winning ticket and take it to any retailer for validation. The ticket issued is the only valid receipt for claiming a prize.

FLORIDA LOTT ® , MEGA MILLIONS ® and POWERBALL ® jackpot prizes may be paid in 30 annual installments, and JACKPOT TRIPLE PLAY™ jackpot prizes may be paid in 25 annual installments. CASH4LIFE™ Grand Prize and second prize may be paid for the natural life of the winner. Certain Scratch-Off games that offer an annual payment option may be paid in annual installments in accordance with the rule for that game.

FLORIDA LOTTO, MEGA MILLIONS, POWERBALL, JACKPOT TRIPLE PLAY, CASH4LIFE and certain Scratch-Off games also offer a Cash Option method of payment – a one-time, lump-sum payment that jackpot winners may choose to receive instead of receiving their winnings in annual payments. Payment may be made by check or by ACH transfer to a bank or brokerage account in the winner’s name; however, the Lottery strongly recommends the ACH transfer method of payment. A winner electing the ACH transfer method of payment must provide the Lottery with a voided check or ACH transfer instructions to a financial institution. FLORIDA LOTTO, MEGA MILLIONS, POWERBALL, JACKPOT TRIPLE PLAY and CASH4LIFE winners who wish to elect the Cash Option method of payment must claim their prizes and make their payment election within 60 days after the winning draw date. If the winner does not elect the Cash Option within 60 days after the winning draw date, the prize will be paid in annual payments.

Can lottery winners remain anonymous in florida ATTENTION PLAYERS: All Lottery offices are currently open to the public by appointment only for prizes valued at $600 or more. Players with