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Lawyers accept mystery winner's $352M check; Girls Inc. and anti-hunger group to share in $250K gift

New Hampshire Union Leader

March 08. 2018 11:46AM
Lawyers, lottery officials and representatives from charities pose with big checks during a payout from the $559 million mystery Powerball winner during a press conference at New Hampshire Lottery in Concord on Wednesday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

CEO Cathy Duffy Cullity of Girls Inc. catches up with attorney William Shaheen at a press conference about the $559 million mystery Powerball winner New Hampshire Lottery in Concord on Wednesday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

CONCORD — The mystery Powerball winner plans to give away $25 million to $50 million over her lifetime, according to her lawyer, who on Wednesday ceremoniously accepted a $352 million check on her behalf.

In a light-hearted news conference, William Shaheen also announced that his client has divided up $250,000 among four organizations. Shaheen said his client will now be working on an investment strategy as well as an ongoing legal battle to keep her identity secret.

“Now we start this journey. We’ll be working to invest the money wisely and give it away generously,” said Shaheen, who has filed a Jane Doe case in Superior Court to try to keep the winner’s identity secret.

Appearing at the news conference were representatives of four organizations who will receive a donation. Girls Inc., which operates clubhouses in Manchester and Nashua, will get $150,000. Three chapters of End 68 Hours of Hunger (Nashua, Derry and Dover) will get $33,000.

“We struggle so much with fundraising and keeping money coming in,” said Lauren Kolifrath, program coordinator at the all-volunteer Dover chapter of 68 Hours. The organization fills the backpacks of needy schoolchildren each Friday with a weekend’s worth of food.

Kolifrath gave Shaheen a thank-you card to share with her benefactor.

The news conference was held to highlight the transfer of money to the mystery winner, even while she has filed actions in Hillsborough County Superior Court to keep her identity secret. As part of a deal, state lottery officials have possession of her signed lottery ticket and have promised not to disclose the name until Judge Charles Temple rules on the case.

“The last thing we want to do is stand between a winner and her money,” said Charlie McIntyre, executive director of the Lottery.

Attorney William Shaheen speaks at a press conference about the $559 million mystery Powerball winner at New Hampshire Lottery in Concord on Wednesday. Also pictured is attorney Steven Gordon, right, Charles McIntyre, lottery director, and Debra Douglas, lottery commission chair. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

Shaheen said he will appeal Temple’s ruling if it goes against his client.

“(She) desires to stay in New Hampshire. She loves where she lives and doesn’t want to leave,” Shaheen said.

But her identity has everyone guessing who she is, including recipients of donations. 

“Does she know us? Did her daughter go to our program? Did she go to our program? You could be at a dinner standing next to her,” said Cathy Duffy Cullity, chief executive of Girls Inc. She said Shaheen called her last week to let her know about the donation.

“It was a gift, it was a miracle,” Cullity said.

The Powerball prize was $559 million, but the winner opted to take it in a lump sum. The super-sized check displayed for cameras represented that amount: $352,018,919.40. But she didn’t even get that. The lottery commission must withhold 25 percent for tax purposes, so $264.01 million went to her trust account — Good Karma Family 2018 Nominee Trust.

Tax laws make it advantageous to establish a charitable trust right away, said Brent Kiley, co-founder of Rise Private Wealth Management.

He said most endowments use a rate of 4 to 5 percent for annual earnings. So a $100 million endowment would generate $5 million a year, or $50 million over 10 years.

“I think it’s a great start,” Kiley said of the $25 million to $50 million target. “Most of these (lottery winning) stories, I don’t see people doing this. I expect over time she’ll do more,” he said.

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