The bill faced strong opposition from the North Carolina Education Lottery, who argued that publicity surrounding big winners helped prove that the system was credible and transparent. Officials maintained that they gave full support and education to winners who might need help transitioning into a new stage of their lives and that publicly recognising winners actually helped them discover instances of fraud.
Rep. Jackson introduced the legislation to give big prize winners a chance to protect themselves from harassment or even grievous harm. Focusing the committee discussion on the merits of government transparency versus public safety, he insisted that he wanted to “balance it a little bit” towards the latter. Ultimately, most of the remaining members voted against the bill due to concerns about residents’ confidence in how the state government operates. Rep. Jackson said that he would be open to submitting a revised version of the bill if and when he felt the time was right.
Only a handful of U.S. states - Maryland, Delaware, Kansas, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina - give their lottery winners the option to remain anonymous. Others allow winners to claim their prizes through a trust or a legal representative, thus keeping their names out of the spotlight while they process how their lives will change. In a vast majority of states, the winner’s name must be made public, as well as their hometown and the location in which they purchased their ticket.
For now, players who win big on Powerball, Mega Millions or other North Carolina Lottery games will have to accept that if they want to claim their winnings, they’ll need to step out into the spotlight.