Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Big Lottery Winners Often Prize Anonymity

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Big Lottery Winners Often Prize Anonymity

Article excerpt

RED BUD, Ill. -- The tiny Illinois farm town of Red Bud is the kind of place with few strangers and few secrets. Yet the community of 3,700 has a lingering mystery on its hands: Who bought the winning Mega Millions lottery ticket, and why hasn't the winner of the world-record $646 million jackpot come forward?

Though secrecy surrounds the ticket sold at the MotoMart convenience store, lottery officials note that it's not unusual for winners to lie low -- and those who advise them say it's just plain smart.

It's exactly what the Kansas winner of the March 30 Mega Millions drawing decided to do. Kansas Lottery director Dennis Wilson said the person came to the agency's Topeka headquarters Friday morning with an attorney and financial advisers.

Mr. Wilson said the person does not want to be identified, even by gender -- something Kansas law allows.

"They obviously don't need the publicity," he said. "They're not used to the publicity of where they're from, where they live."

A third winning ticket was sold in Maryland, and questions fester about a woman claiming to have it.

For all of its promise, instant riches come with a price, starting with the immediate barrage of calls from relatives and distant friends eager for a handout.

Never mind the need to hire specialists to address tax implications and craft a disciplined investment strategy that could avoid the fate of past lottery winners who have spectacularly burned through vast fortunes or found that they were better off before they struck it rich.

"I'm so happy I'm seeing this. This is exactly what they should do," said Florida certified financial planner Susan Bradley, founder of the Sudden Money Institute, a resource center for new money recipients such as lottery winners. "Some people are really afraid - - scared of blowing it, losing who they are and being taken advantage of. Hopefully, they're getting their ducks in a row and starting to settle into the magnitude of the experience.

"If you understood how unbelievably complicated this is, you might not play," she added. "That's not to say that winning is a bad thing. [But with a jackpot], all your old problems are over, and all your new ones are just starting. …

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