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Big jackpot winners in Michigan could remain anonymous, bills propose

Bills introduced in Lansing would give Mega Millions and Powerball winners in Michigan the option of remaining anonymous.
Credit: WZZM
An effort is underway in Michigan to let lottery winners decide if they want their names made public.

LANSING, Mich. — Should winners of multi-state lottery jackpots have their names splashed in headlines and trumpeted on TV?

An effort is underway in Michigan to let winners decide if they want that kind of exposure.

That is the crux of a House bill recently introduced in Lansing. It would prohibit state lottery officials from disclosing information about prizewinners “unless the winner of the prize agrees in writing to allow the disclosure.’’

A similar bill was introduced earlier this year in the Michigan Senate.

It is not the first time Michigan lawmakers have tried to give newly-minted millionaires an option for privacy. Similar efforts in 2015 and 2018 failed to gain traction.

Michigan lottery rules currently permit winners to remain anonymous if the prize is $10,000 or more and did not come from a multi-state game, such as Mega Millions and Powerball.

Supporters of the legislation say winners too often are bombarded with requests for money from long-lost relatives, assorted charities and even crooks.

In 2008, a Michigan winner received unwanted publicity tied to his $57 million Mega Millions jackpot winnings. Some media outlets reported he was also a registered sex offender.

At least six states, including Ohio, currently allow anonymity to winners of Mega Millions and Powerball jackpots.

Virginia earlier this year enacted a law that prevents state lottery officials from releasing certain information about winners whose prize exceeds $10 million, unless the winner wants the information made public.

Several states have a law requiring that lottery winners be publicly identified. Advocates of disclosing the names of winners say it ensures transparency.

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