NASHUA, N.H. (CBS/AP) — Lawyers for a New Hampshire woman who won a $559.7 million Powerball jackpot went before a judge Tuesday to request that she remain anonymous.
The woman, identified as Jane Doe, filed a complaint in Hillsborough Superior Court in Nashua saying she signed the back of the ticket following the Jan. 6 drawing, the nation’s eighth-largest lottery jackpot.
Under New Hampshire law, a lottery winner’s name, town and prize amount are public information.
But after the woman contacted a lawyer, she learned that she could have shielded her identity by instead writing the name of a trust.
The woman hasn’t turned in her ticket yet.
Lottery officials say they must process the ticket like any other.
“For the public’s transparency, they want to make sure it’s fair game and it’s not my mom who won,” said Charles McIntyre, the New Hampshire Lottery executive director.
“You have to understand, this ticket is the most valuable piece of paper on planet Earth,” he added.
Jane Doe’s attorney, Steven Gordon, argued his client deeply values her privacy and that placing the money in a trust has been done before. In 2016, a $487 million prize in New Hampshire was claimed through a trust.
“But the individual who possessed that ticket, the winning ticket, prior to signing it in her own name consulted counsel, got advice and then she put it in the name of a trust, all consistent with New Hampshire law,” Gordon told the court.
“In a public lottery, when someone wins $560 million, the public has a right to know that there is a real winner behind that ticket, argued New Hampshire Assistant Attorney General John Conforti.
The hearing lasted about 90 minutes. The judge is taking the matter under advisement.
“There’s documented history of people getting harmed, people coming into their homes. That’s a real possibility,” Gordon told reporters.
Sam Safa, who runs the store where the ticket was sold, said people have been reaching out to him trying to find the woman’s identity.
“She will be harassed a lot more than I am. I am getting a few phone calls, email messages. But I don’t have half a billion. She has half a billion,” he said.
Attorneys say the woman is losing $14,000-$15,000 a day in interest by not claiming the ticket, and that total will rise if she takes the case to the Supreme Court.
“She was very upset because she didn’t know she lost her right of anonymity by signing the ticket. The back of the ticket could have simply said ‘If you sign the back of the ticket, you lose your anonymity,” said William Shaheen, another of the woman’s attorneys.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)