An increasing number of lotto winners are opting to remain anonymous. This choice, however, has created controversy in some quarters of the industry.
Many jackpot winners would rather avoid the spotlight. There are many valid concerns about having a sudden, large windfall made public. Privacy issues and harassment from strangers, friends, and even family abound. Some players have sought legal recourse by suing for their anonymity. Others opt for a more conciliatory work-around.
In a recent Massachusetts scratch-ticket prize ceremony, it wasn’t the winner who arrived to claim $15 million. The traditional oversized check was instead held by two smiling strangers. The winner’s name remain undisclosed from the public.
Enter David Spillane, a professional “lotto winner.” Winners form legal trusts with him to claim the prizes in their stead.
“People come up to me and say congratulations. How come you win over and over?” said Spillane. He has claimed five jackpot prizes at the Massachusetts State Lottery headquarters to date. “People are afraid others are going to find out they have had a windfall and are going to start hitting them up for money,” he added.
“This year has been an aberration thus far,” Lottery spokesman Christian Teja said. “Typically people are choosing not to have a spotlight on them and trying to maintain a level of privacy, and it is completely within the legal boundaries.”
Critics say the laws allow winners to skirt regulations that promote transparency. However, regulations and laws vary by state and games.