In late 2022, a $2.04 billion winning Powerball ticket was sold at a convenience store in Altadena, California. Who won is still a bit of a mystery.
Powerball winners have one year to come forward and claim their prize.
The last thing a person wants when coming into some new money is a handful of distant relatives, former college friends, or long-forgotten exes to come out of the woodwork.
So it is probably in your best interest to keep your winnings to yourself. But is that even allowed?
While discussing personal finances in pleasant company is typically considered poor etiquette, for the California Lottery, it’s the law.
According to the California Lottery website, disclosure laws require the lottery to publicize the winner’s full name and the name and location of the business that sold the winning ticket. Total winnings, including “your gross and net installment payments,” are public record, the lottery says, and are subject to disclosure as well.
But that’s all the lottery is required to disclose.
In late 2022, Chad Fry, a man from Placer County, won $20 million from a California lottery scratch-off ticket. It was the largest prize from a scratcher in California Lottery history.
Fry said he bought the $30 scratcher while stopping at a local market to pick up some beer. He paid for the ticket with money he made from a construction job.
That information was provided willingly.
Winners have the choice to disclose more than what is required, including any big ticket items they plan on purchasing with their new wealth.
For Fry, he said he planned on buying a new Ford F-250 pickup.
California is not alone with its policy on disclosing lottery winner information. In fact, they are in the majority. Only 11 states in the nation allow winners to remain anonymous.
If you are hoping to stay as incognito as long as possible regarding your wins, there are a few things you can do:
First, only disclose the bare minimum amount of information required by law. Don’t provide too many details of your story to the California Lottery and don’t agree to participate in any optional photo ops.
Second, buy your tickets in an area other than where you live.
Lastly, it doesn’t hurt to have a common first and last name, although that one’s a lot harder to control.
All three of those worked in the favor of one California winner.
According to Mercury News, very little is known about Steve Tran, who won a $324 million Mega Millions lottery in 2013. He was identified only as a Northern California man who bought the ticket while driving through San Jose with his family.
Even less is known about the winner of a $1.4 billion Mega Millions jackpot in 2018. She bought the ticket in South Carolina, one of the states where you can claim anonymously, and released a statement through her lawyer that she was donating a large chunk to charity. She has been largely radio silent since then.
We will have to wait and see what happens with Chad Fry and his new millions. He opted for the lump sum which will pay out $11.6 million before federal taxes. State and local taxes won’t be withheld, but he may still be liable for any state and local personal income taxes, according to the California Lottery.
So if you’re in Placer County and see a new F-250 on the road, it’s probably a good idea to give them a friendly wave or let them cut you in traffic — you never know.