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As the Mega Millions lottery draw approaches, players may be wondering how to protect their safety and identity if one of them is the lucky winner.
No one matched the numbers from the last Mega Millions draw. This catapulted the jackpot to $1 billion on Thursday.
This big prize is likely to draw attention to any winner whose identities are revealed – arguably making them a target for theft and other security compromises.
However, public disclosure laws actually vary from state to state, according to the Mega Millions.
“Some states require their lotteries to publicly identify winners, while others do not,” the lottery game’s website says. “Check with the lottery in your jurisdiction.”
Here are a number of US states among the 45 Mega Millions participating states where winners can be anonymous.
(This list is subject to change as more states have pushed for legislation that would protect the identity of lottery winners.)
Which states in America allow Mega Millions winners to be anonymous?
The names of individuals (or legally incorporated entities) who win $600 or more are kept confidential for 90 days from the date the prize is awarded, according to the Arizona Lottery.
The winners are also not revealed in public records during this time.
Winners of $100,000 or more may choose to keep their name confidential at all times. However, the winner’s city and county of residence are not confidential under Arizona law.
Delaware state law allows winners to remain anonymous, according to Delaware Lottery Games.
If a person win a lottery prize $250,000 or more, that person can remain anonymous.
The Kansas Lottery says winners can request that their name and residence be kept secret, “and the Kansas Lottery is happy to honor that request,” the organization says on its website.
Lottery winners have the right to remain anonymous in Maryland, according to the state lottery organization.
“We do not release the name or photo of any such winner unless the winner has specifically given us written consent to do so,” the Maryland website states.
After a bill was passed in 2021, the names and cities of lottery winners collecting a prize over $10,000 are anonymous, unless the winner chooses to make it public.
The Mississippi Lottery will not release the identity of the lottery winner without that person’s written permission, pursuant to Mississippi Lottery Law Alyce G. Clarke.
By law, the Missouri Lottery cannot publish the names of lottery winners without their prior consent, according to the state lottery site.
The name of a Montana Lottery winner is not made public.
The Montana Lottery also states that it does not publish the names of winners without the winner’s permission.
For prizes over $1 million that have been claimed since 2020 legislation, the New Jersey Lottery allows winners to choose to remain anonymous.
On January 21, 2020, New Jersey’s lottery law was amended so that winners can choose to remain anonymous indefinitely, “and the identity of winners must not be included in any documents publicly available under the law. on the state’s open public records,” the New Jersey Lottery said in a 2021 press release.
In North Dakota, winners can choose to release their information or remain anonymous.
Anonymity is also granted in the state of Ohio.
Caroline from the south
In South Carolina, winners can remain anonymous.
However, in 2021, the freedom of anonymity was challenged by a man who filed an open-record request with the State Lottery Commission; it was researching the names, contact information, date and jackpot amounts of winners of $1 million or more for a 12-month period in 2013 and 2014, according to The Associated Press (AP).
At first, the state Supreme Court sided with the man.
The commission then prosecuted the man. A judge ruled that disclosing the winners’ ‘personally identifiable information would be unreasonable invasion of privacy“as defined by the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act, according to the AP.
The judge also prohibited the man from continuing to seek the information from any source.
Although this was not always possible in Texas, lottery winners can now remain anonymous.
Specifically, a person who wins a lottery prize of $1 million or more is eligible for anonymity, according to a 2017 announcement released by the Texas Lottery.
Since July 1, 2019, a law in Virginia allows winners prizes over $10 million for choosing anonymity — meaning the winner’s name and residence are not made public, according to the Virginia Lottery website.
Also effective in 2019, West Virginia law allows winners to remain anonymous as long as the prize won is $1 million or more.
“All other winners are made public and listed in the winners database at wvlottery.com,” the state lottery site says.
The Wyoming Lottery Corporation said it would honor lottery winners’ requests for anonymity.
How do I anonymously claim a lottery prize if my state doesn’t allow it?
As an alternative, winners may be able to form a blind trust through their attorney so that winnings can be received anonymously, advises State Farm.
Lottery winners must also keep any news they have won confidential before handing in a ticket, the insurance company said.
Winners must also be prepared to change their contact details.
Indeed, many lotteries share names or require interviews or attendance at press conferences for transparency reasons.
State Farm also warns that lottery winners should read each game’s rules and contract before sign your winning ticket.
“In some cases, signing your ticket can prevent you from creating a blind trust later,” notes the insurance company’s “What to do if you win the lottery” article.
A New York-area financial advisor recommended placing the ticket in a bank vault until the winners have completed consultations with legal and financial advisors.
Also, this counselor said to understand your particular state’s rules about whether or not you can remain anonymous. “It’s very important,” he said.
Be sure to visit your state official lottery page for more information.
The next Mega Millions draw will take place on Friday at 11:00 p.m. EDT.
Fox News Digital’s Cortney Moore and Maureen Mackey contributed to this report.