Judge Rules Powerball Winner 'Jane Doe' Can Remain Anonymous

Mar 12, 2018

The winning ticket was bought in Merrimack.
Credit Todd Bookman / NHPR

Jane Doe will remain Jane Doe.

In a ruling that could shift legal precedent in New Hampshire, a Superior Court judge has declared that the identity of a woman who won a $560 million Powerball jackpot cannot be disclosed by the state Lottery Commission, citing “an invasion of privacy.”

[Read the judge's order here.]

Currently, the front and back of winning lottery tickets are considered public documents and thus subject to the state’s Right to Know laws. The Lottery Commission argued in court last month this ensures transparency in the lottery system, and can’t be sidelined simply due to the size of the jackpot or reluctance of the winner.

Lawyers for the winner, identified only as Jane Doe, argued that releasing the ticket--and therefore the winner’s name and address--would do little to ensure a clean lottery system, and would instead subject her to unwanted attention.

[You can read NHPR's previous coverage of this story here.]

Jane Doe signed her name to the back of the January 6th lottery ticket, as instructed by the Lottery Commission’s website. After consulting with an attorney, however, she learned that she could have instead received the money through a trust. That legal maneuver would keep her identity private, revealing only the name of the trust.

In his ruling Monday, Judge Charles Temple says that only the hometown of Ms. Doe can be released, citing her “strong privacy interest.”

A lawyer with the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office, which argued the case on behalf of the Lottery Commission, says it is still reviewing the decision and can’t yet comment on a possible appeal.

Last week, the Lottery Commission and representatives for Jane Doe completed the transfer of her winnings, estimated at $264 million after federal taxes, to a trust in advance of the judge’s ruling. At that event, Doe announced several charitable donations to New Hampshire nonprofits.

(This is a developing story. It will be updated shortly.)