March 13 (UPI) — A New Hampshire judge ruled Monday that the winner of a $559.7 million Powerball jackpot prize can remain anonymous.
Judge Charles Temple ruled that disclosing the woman’s name would be an invasion of privacy and allowed her to be exempt from a state law which requires the release of a winner’s name and hometown.
Temple allowed the woman to maintain her anonymity through the monicker “Jane Doe” but ruled that the woman’s hometown can still be made public by the New Hampshire Lottery Commission.
Doe’s lawyer, William Shaheen, revealed she is from the town of Merrimack, 30 miles south of the state capital of Concord.
Shaheen’s law firm, Shaheen & Gordon, P.A., said the woman made a “huge mistake” signing her real name on the back of the ticket before contacting them or placing the money in a trust fund that would have allowed her to stay anonymous.
The state had argued names of lottery winners must be disclosed publicly to ensure they are distributed properly and that winners hold no relation to lottery employees.
Temple found there was “no evidence” the New Hampshire State Lottery Commission was engaged in fraudulent activity, noting the drawing takes place in Florida.
He also ruled in agreement with the woman’s lawyers, stating she would “be subject to an alarming amount of harassment, solicitation and other unwanted communications” were her identity released.
“Although the Commission dismissed this harassment as trivial and or speculative, for the court to do so would require it to ignore the significant media attention this case has received, the numerous documents of bad experiences of other lottery winners, as well as the bevy of unsolicited emails, phone calls and in-person visits already directed at Ms. Doe through her attorneys,” he wrote.
Representatives from the law firm accepted the woman’s $352 million pre-tax winnings on her behalf last week and the money was held in a trust fund as both sides awaited the court’s decision.
The woman who was described as an “engaged community member” plans to donate $150,000 to Girls Inc. and $33,000 each to three New Hampshire chapters of End 68 Hours of Hunger.