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pa lottery winners anonymous

Should the Pennsylvania Lottery conceal winners’ names? Paul Muschick says ‘No.’

Editor’s note: The column was first published on March 23, 2018.

The person or persons who struck it rich and won the largest jackpot in Pennsylvania Lottery history last week hasn’t come forward to claim their prize yet.

Who knows, the winner could be here among us in the Lehigh Valley, as the lucky Powerball ticket was bought at a store not far away, in Manheim, Lancaster County.

Hopefully, the ticketholder is putting a plan together, taking time to understand what a life-changing event it is to be handed a $457 million annuity, cash value before taxes of $274 million. They should be considering how to wisely invest their fortune to maximize it for future generations.

And, like it or not, they also should be preparing for the world to know they are filthy rich.

The Pennsylvania Lottery considers winners’ names to be public records. It publishes the names of the biggest winners on its website and issues news releases about their prizes.

Winners of at least $1,000 have partial names — first name, last initial, county of residence — published online, with the complete information available to anyone who asks for it using the state’s Right-to-Know Law. Street addresses and phone numbers are not released.

This is a touchy topic that’s received a lot of attention recently, since a New Hampshire woman holding a Powerball ticket worth nearly $560 million raised a fuss when she learned her identity could be revealed. As in Pennsylvania, the New Hampshire Lottery considers winners’ names to be public records. She went to court to fight to keep her name secret.

A judge ruled in her favor, saying the woman’s privacy interest outweighed the public’s interest in disclosing her name.

The Pennsylvania Lottery considers the names of winners to be public records, though it doesn't publicly publish them all.