Name of $560M Powerball winner can be kept secret, New Hampshire judge rulesUnion Leader Staff
March 12. 2018 2:26PM
NASHUA -- The world may never know who won a $560 million Powerball jackpot, according to a court ruling issued Monday in favor of the woman’s request to remain anonymous.
However, the woman’s hometown must be disclosed, according to Judge Charles Temple of Hillsborough County Superior Court.
"Disclosure of Ms. (Jane) Doe’s name would constitute an invasion of privacy under RSA 91-A. This personal information is exempt from disclosure under the Right-to-Know law," ruled Temple. "The (New Hampshire Lottery) Commission is hereby permanently enjoined from disclosing Ms. Doe’s name pursuant to any future Right-to-Know request, or to any other person or entity unless authorized by law."
Temple said that the court has no doubt that if her identity was revealed, she would be subject to harassment, solicitation and other unwanted communication. The woman already received her winnings last week.
"Although the Commission dismissed this harassment as trivial and/or speculative, for the court to do so would require it to ignore the significant media attention this case has received, the numerous documents of bad experiences of other lottery winners, as well as the bevy of unsolicited emails, phone calls and in-person visits already directed at Ms. Doe through her attorneys," states Temple’s ruling.
The winner’s privacy interest in the nondisclosure of her name outweighs the public’s interest in the disclosure of her name, the judge concluded.
Still, Temple ruled that the winner has no privacy interest in keeping the community wherein she resides secret, which the judge ruled could be disclosed pursuant to a Right-to-Know request.
"Given that any female person in Ms. Doe’s hometown could potentially be the winner, it is highly unlikely that Ms. Doe could be identified as the winner based solely on the disclosure of that limited piece of information," he said.
Recently, Assistant Attorney General John Conforti said there is a substantial public interest in disclosure of the woman’s identity, specifically the winning ticket that she signed.
"The lottery thrives on transparency," Conforti argued last month. He said taxpayers need to know that the Commission is running the games in an appropriate manner with integrity and fairness.
Temple ruled that there is no evidence or information suggesting that the Commission has engaged in any corrupt activity. Furthermore, he said that given the structure of the Powerball lottery game, the chance of any corruption or error attributable to the Commission is extremely low. He stressed that while the Commission administers the Powerball lottery in New Hampshire, it is actually run by the Multi-State Lottery Association.