A Bronx man's excitement about winning $5 million from a scratch-off lottery game turned into extreme worry because the NY State Lottery wants him to go public.
The lucky man shared his plight with the NY Post, explaining, "Where I grew up, everybody knows me. All these people would know and I’m afraid they might come for me. Everybody who knows me knows I’m too nice. And I don’t want to be taken advantage of."
According to the Post, the unnamed 24-year-old winner, who is unemployed, bought the ticket on April 24. “I scratched from front to back. Five — it had a comma, so I’m like, it’s probably $5,000. Then it had another comma. My mind blew," he recalled. "I put the ticket down, and I just started jumping all over the house. I’m like, ‘I won $5 million!’ I just couldn’t believe it. It still doesn’t register — maybe it will when I have the money."
However, the NY State Gaming Commission requires winners to accept their payouts (over $1 million) in person at a press event. A Gaming Commission spokesman said, "In claiming the prize, winners must sign a claim agreeing to attend the press conference. We don’t have any provisions for anonymity."
Other experts point out that having a press event is also a public relations boon for the lottery. Still, the winner's lawyer told the Post, "I’m sure he’ll be forever hounded. It’s a really bad idea to identify people. They might not get harmed right away, but one, two years down the road, they might get robbed."
There are many stories (and lists) about bad luck that's struck lottery winners over the years. The Daily Beast offered the historical perspective: "Such lurid anecdotes stretch back over a century. 'Won $500,000 and Died Penniless,' reads an 1893 headline in the Chicago Daily Tribune. 'Lottery Winner Slain,' blares a 1924 story in the Pittsburgh Press. In 1934, the Montreal Gazette announced, 'Lottery Winner Dies of Shock.' And in the August 19, 1936, New York Times: 'Henry Patnaude of Manchester won about $1,100 in a lottery last spring and gave up his job as a meat cutter. Today he was found a suicide by gas.'"
Currently, there are bills in the NY State legislature to allow lottery winners to remain anonymous (both are languishing in committee). Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina permit anonymous lottery winners.
One of the sponsors of the New York bills, State Sen. Joseph Addabo says, "There have been incidences of violent crime, including murder against several winners of large lottery prizes. In addition, many have been victims of fraud and abuse by illicit firms that advertise as wealth managers or financial planners. A winner of the New York State lottery
should be able to decide if they wish to remain anonymous."