On Tuesday, state legislation that would allow Michiganders who win either Powerball or Mega Millions jackpots to remain anonymous got its first hearing in East Lansing.
As MLive reported, most states — including Michigan — currently require winners’ names to be released to the public, along with the amount of their corresponding prize earnings. If passed, Michigan’s legislation would give winners of multi-state lottery games the option to stay anonymous, something that’s currently permitted in 10 states (Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Carolina, and Wyoming).
Preventing winners from becoming theft targets is among the primary motivators for HB 4048, which passed the House last year by a vote of 107-1 but failed to reach the Senate floor.
“In today’s digital age, maintaining privacy and ensuring personal safety have become paramount concerns,” sponsoring Rep. Pat Outman told MLive. “Requiring individuals to reveal their names when they win a lottery prize is akin to throwing meat in a shark-infested ocean.”
Rep. Tyrone Carter agreed, pointing to the 2009 murder of a Florida man who won a $30 million jackpot. Currently, only winners of in-state jackpots of $10,000 or more can remain anonymous in Michigan.
Lottery content with status quo
For its part, the Michigan Lottery wants to see the existing standard upheld, as the agency fears not being able to share winners’ names will hurt sales and, in turn, reduce funding for public schools — as well as lead people to question the integrity of certain games.
“The status quo has worked for players and for the lottery for many years,” lottery spokesman Jake Harris told MLive. “Being able to show that real people are winning, I think, lends to the public knowing that these games are being run with integrity.”
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