If legislation working its way through the Michigan Senate had been law last month, the world might never have known the name and face of Donald Lawson, the 44-year-old father of two who claimed a $337 million dollar Powerball jackpot.
Lawson, like many previous lottery winners, wasn’t very happy about going public.
“I’m an alone person. That’s what I want to be. I don’t like chaos, but I have to do it,” he said.
The Michigan Senate is considering a measure that would allow multistate lottery winners to remain anonymous, and other states may soon follow suit.
Supporters of the proposed measure like 7 time lottery game grand prize winner Richard Lustig agrees; he says winners should be allowed to keep their privacy for their own safety and sanity.
“Most people aren’t cut out for that kind of media attention, and it can put you and your family under enormous stress”, says Lustig, author of LEARN HOW TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCES TO WIN THE LOTTERY.
He says some of the very real dangers include:
* Stress from being in front of others “The number one fear above all others is public speaking, and this is public speaking and attention on a really grand scale”
* Family, friends and strangers appearing to ask for money. “Lottery winners get emails and letters all the time asking for handouts; it’s impossible to help them all, or even know which are real and which are cons”
* Change, real or perceived, from the attention. “Those around you will accuse you of changing because you won, and being all over the media will just make that a hundred times worse”
A potential roadblock comes from state lottery officials, who will likely be concerned that people keeping quiet about their big wins could lessen a state’s ability to promote lotteries like Powerball and Mega Millions, and that could hurt sales.
Events featuring big game winners do generate massive publicity, as evidenced by the dozens of reporters and television news cameras that surround big winners like Lustig. “I’m OK with it because I have a long background as a Master of Ceremonies and entertainer before I ever won my first lottery. But for most people, that’s not the case and it’s really tough for them to adjust.”
Besides, according to Lustig, the real spike in lottery ticket sales comes as the drawings get larger — “the giant number that shows how big the jackpot is…that’s what drives sales, not spotlighting the winners afterwards.