I had a discussion with a friend and we both ended up agreeing that it recklessly endangers a lottery winner to publicly reveal their identity. If that person becomes robbed, hacked and/or injured soon after winning as a result of being revealed, can't they sue the state government for being so blatantly careless?

2 Answers 2


Unfortunately I don't have the rep for a comment, but a quick google search would reveal there is at least precedence of remaining anonymous in a "Right to Know" law state (is the correct term? I'm not a US citizen, nor have any legal background) in the case of Jane Doe vs New Hampshire Lottery Commission

While this doesn't cover any part of suing the state as mentioned above, it does cover the underlying reason why you would likely be unsuccessful in attempting it, namely the freedom of information that is allowed to citizens of most US states.

  • Interesting if true in its extension. I suppose since it is public money then it would make sense for the public to be able to keep track of it, though on the other hand, the federal government also spends money on the federal witness protection program, and doesn't reveal the participants since it is an obvious danger. Not to mention the fact that the IRS doesn't openly disclose everyone's personal finances despite people paying taxes. The case you cite seems to be on the basis of an invasion of privacy though, not bodily harm to a person and/or their family.
    – user14554
    Jan 2, 2019 at 5:50
  • Why did this get downvoted initially anyway? Citing actual precedence is the most proactive thing anyone here has done.
    – user14554
    Jan 2, 2019 at 19:40

The level of anonymity or privacy given by the lottery administrator (the state) to the lottery winner depends on the terms and conditions of lottery that are accepted as a binding contract when the buyer buys a lottery ticket. It's all in the small print. If you don't like the terms of the lottery, don't buy a ticket.

The lottery terms probably says that the state can use the winner's name in marketing and promotional materials. For a winner to be able to be anonymous, the terms of the lottery would have to specifically state that anonymity is guaranteed, while at the same time, allowing the state to report the winner to the IRS for tax purposes. (Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina all allow lottery winners to remain anonymous.)

The winner will have little recourse against the state due to circumstances - like being robbed or fleeced - which are outside of the state's control because they are actions by individuals, not the state. The state is also not guilty of "recklessly endangering people" because the ticket buyer knowingly bought a ticket, hoping to win, and agreed to terms.

And it's quite difficult to sue any form of government; states and the federal government are by law immune to most legal actions. The recourse of the ticket buyer - or group of buyers who were possibly harmed as a result of winning - is to encourage the legislation of laws that provide for the anonymity of winners.

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    The state does not force someone to buy a lottery ticket and enter into a contract regarding the winnings. The state is immune by law. The state is not "recklessly endangering people"; people make a choice when they buy a ticket. Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina all allow lottery winners to remain anonymous. If a winner is not in one of those states, find a lawyer and sue the state for recklessly endangering people; you'll lose, but that's one way to possibly encourage the state leg. to pass laws like the other states that seek to protect winners. Jan 2, 2019 at 3:17
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    Laws do not appear out of thin air; they must be legislated. The state is not "willfully forgoing a basic precaution such as anonymity" because there is no legal mandate to offer anonymity to lottery winners in those states that do not aleady offer anonymity to winners by law. Jan 2, 2019 at 3:34
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    @user14554 "money tendered for the slim chance of gaining more money" under specific, well publicised conditions. The gambler takes on the responsibility. In the case of the DMV, pedestrians are exposed to the risk of drivers and vehicles licensed by the state without any choice. You seem to be wanting to make an issue out of nothing - you'd have equal chance of saying the state owes a duty of care so that winners don't drink and party themselves into oblivion once the money is handed over.
    – user4210
    Jan 2, 2019 at 3:49
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    @user14554 sorry, but I disagree with you - this simply isn't an important issue. The conditions of the lottery is state well in advance, it's a voluntary act to take part, the state has utterly no case to answer here - they aren't causing harm and they aren't responsible for others causing harm. The entire risk is 100% avoidable by the individual not buying a ticket.
    – user4210
    Jan 2, 2019 at 4:19
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    @user14554 so we've gone from state lottery to me opening the door to slavery? I think this conversation is over.
    – user4210
    Jan 2, 2019 at 4:42

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