Staying Anonymous

Find out the rules about staying anonymous in each of the participating Lotto America states. In some jurisdictions you are allowed to keep your identity private, while in others the law dictates that your name has to be made public.

Historically, the majority of states have regarded winner information as a matter of open record and have automatically disclosed the relevant details, but there has been a shift in recent years which has seen more lawmakers bring in regulations to allow anonymity.

The table below shows a list of the 13 states where Lotto America is played, along with details of the rules on anonymity.

Publicity Options in Lotto America States
State Can Winners Stay Anonymous?
Delaware Yes
Idaho No
Iowa Winners can claim through a legal trust to stay private
Kansas Yes
Maine Winners can claim through a legal trust to stay private
Minnesota Yes, if the prize is worth more than $10,000
Mississippi Yes
Montana Yes
New Mexico No
North Dakota Yes
Oklahoma Winners can claim through a legal trust to stay private
South Dakota No
Tennessee No
West Virginia Yes, if the prize is worth more than $1 million

Public Record

In the states that do not allow anonymity, the lotteries are bound by law to release certain details about a winner if there is a request for information. The larger a prize, the more likely it is that someone will want to know who has won. Details such as a winner’s name, city of residence and prize amount won are deemed public information in these states.

This public record law exists in so many states to maintain people’s confidence that lotteries are run fairly. If the public see that a real person has won a big jackpot, it would encourage them to participate in a future draw more than it would to hear the prize has been claimed anonymously. Greater participation leads to higher ticket sales and more revenue, and ultimately the main purpose of a state lottery is to generate money to help the state.

Even in the states where anonymity is allowed, some players may prefer to go public. It may be that they enjoy the spotlight of some fame, see opportunities to set up business projects or charitable foundations, or just think that staying quiet would be too much of a secret.

Advantages of Anonymity

In the states where publicity is not obligatory, most winners prefer to stay anonymous. The main advantage is being able to carry on with life as normally as possible, without having your name splashed across TV screens and newspapers.

As the years have gone on, politicians in many states have argued there should be an option for anonymity on safety grounds. Winners can become targets for unwanted attention or criminals, especially at a time when it is so easy to search for personal information online.

State lottery officials can offer advice on the pros and cons of going public in those jurisdictions where it is not mandatory, but it is up to you to decide what to do.

Striking a Balance

Some states have tried to strike a balance between promoting their games by revealing winner information, while at the same time letting players stay anonymous if they wish.

In Minnesota and West Virginia, for example, winners can remain private if the prize amount is above a certain value. This way they can still publicise many of the lower awards that get paid out, ensuring that confidence in the integrity of games remains high. But the biggest winners, who would attract the most attention, are allowed to stay out of the limelight

Another way to shield your identity, in states such as Iowa, Maine and Oklahoma, is to claim through a legal trust or Limited Liability Company (LLC). The name of the trust is still disclosed, but the real winner’s name is protected.

*Mississippi will join Lotto America from May 12, 2024