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Lottery winners should take the money and hush

6:44 PM, Sep 19, 2013   |    comments
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Winners of big lottery jackpots should take the money and hush -- that is, if their state laws allow them to do so.

All but a handful of states, including Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, (thankfully) Ohio and South Carolina, have laws that require the lottery to release the name and city of residence to anyone who asks.

Other states may offer to assist you in some way, including such things as the creation of trusts.

But generally, it's probably smart to hire an attorney to see what the laws in your state are and what your options are.

This came to mind as the Powerball jackpot hit $400 million on Wednesday and one ticket was sold in South Carolina with all the correct numbers. That one winner has yet to come forward.

Now don't tell me you haven't dreamed about what you would do if you hit the jackpot. You know you have.

I know that my first call will be to my attorney to set up a trust. As "out there" as I am, I surely don't want anyone knowing my financial status.

My second call will be to my family and the third call will be to Batman.

And don't forget about all the "bad luck" that is supposed to plague big winners.

I think of Andrew Jackson Whittaker Jr, of West Virginia who won $314.9 million on Dec. 25, 2002. He was already fairly well off financially before he won.

But he then had personal and professional tragedies, including having his car broken into and $200,000 stolen from inside it. (Really? Why would anyone keep $200,000 in their car in the first place?)

He also had several deaths surrounding him. Many other lottery winners talk of being hounded by people who say they will kill themselves unless they are given money. I wouldn't want to deal with that kind of guilt. 

There are arguments for both sides of the "reveal or not reveal." Most states have disclaimers on their lottery sites that explain what is required.

Most states say the taxpayers have a right to know that the prizes are being awarded to real people. In Illinois, for example, winners are required to make their identity public for just that reason.

One Rhode Island woman claimed her prize but had her attorney stand with the oversized, cardboard check for the press conference. Another couple used the check as a shield and covered their faces.

If I win the lottery, don't expect me to quit my job the next day. I wouldn't want to be that obvious.

Besides, if, like me, you do what you love for a living, you will never "work" a day in your life, as the saying goes. So I may never stop working. Now that's a scenario I would like to have.

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