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Lottery Winner Fights State Law To Keep Identity Private

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- If you won the lottery, would you want to keep it a secret and stay anonymous?

That's what a woman who won more than half a billion dollars is fighting to do, but you might be surprised that most states, including Pennsylvania, do not protect the privacy of lottery winners.

In January, a woman in New Hampshire won $560 million in the Powerball lottery. She signed the back of her ticket, but didn't realize that when she signed it, her name was about to go public.

Her lawyers sued the Lottery Commission, attempting to keep her identity private, in part, because they say her safety would be in jeopardy.

New Hampshire Lottery officials argued the state's right-to-know law allowed them to reveal her name.

A judge ruled Monday the woman can keep her identity private because the judge had no doubt that she would suffer an alarming amount of harassment and solicitation.

You might be surprised to know the Pennsylvania Lottery wouldn't protect your privacy either.

"As in most states, Pennsylvania Lottery winners cannot remain anonymous and certain winner information is made public under the state's Open Records law. This assures the public that Lottery winners are real people and that the Lottery operates with integrity and transparency," the Lottery said.

At one point, former state Rep. Ted Harhai, of Westmoreland County, tried to challenge that. He twice introduced legislation that would have allowed lottery winners to keep their identities private, but it never went anywhere in Harrisburg.

For now, you can't stop the Pennsylvania Lottery from releasing your information. To give people some privacy, however, on its website, it only lists your first name and an initial for your last name, along with your county and winnings.

As for the woman in New Hampshire, by not cashing in right away and fighting for her privacy in court, she lost $15,000 a day, or half $1 million a month, in interest.

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