Can you imagine winning millions of dollars and electing NOT to claim your prize?
Nope, neither can I.
But that is exactly what is happening right now in the United States.
A New Hampshire woman is yet to claim a $US560 million ($AU710 million) Powerball because she is refusing to make her identity public.
The state of New Hampshire’s lottery rules requires the winner's name, town and amount won be available on the public record in accordance with open-records laws. This would mean that everyone in the world, including your neighbours, ex-lovers and even criminals, would know you were suddenly a millionaire hundreds of times over.
The woman, identified only as Jane Doe, has taken to the courts, asking a judge to let her keep her winnings AND remain anonymous saying she wishes to live "far from the glare and misfortune that has often fallen upon other lottery winners".
"She is a longtime resident of New Hampshire and is an engaged community member," said her attorney, Steve Gordon. "She wishes to continue this work and the freedom to walk into a grocery store or attend public events without being known or targeted as the winner of a half-billion dollars."
Lottery officials say the integrity of the Powerball relies on the identification of the winner as a protection against fraud and malfeasance.
"The New Hampshire Lottery understands that winning a $560 million Powerball jackpot is a life-changing occurrence," New Hampshire lottery Executive Director Charlie McIntyre said in a statement.
"Having awarded numerous Powerball jackpots over the years, we also understand that the procedures in place for prize claimants are critically important for the security and integrity of the lottery, our players and our games. While we respect this player's desire to remain anonymous, state statutes and lottery rules clearly dictate protocols."
However, Jane Doe’s concerns regarding identification are totally valid – there are numerous stories recounting other lottery winners’ descent into a living nightmare. Some have landed themselves in debt after squandering their winnings, others have been swindled by con artists and in the case of Craigory Burch Jr., his new wealth led to his murder.
In November 2015, Burch won a $434,272 jackpot, just two months later, he was killed in his home by seven masked men. His family said the public announcement of the lottery winnings had made him a target.
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