TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - With the Mega Millions jackpot now at a whopping $1.1 billion – the second-highest prize in game history – players across the country are probably wondering how to keep themselves safe once they come forward. In some states, residents' identities won't be revealed for at least 90 days – that includes Florida.
The 90-day law is fairly new. In May of this year, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB-159, which created a public-records exemption for the names of people who win lottery prizes of $250,000 or more. The law went into effect immediately.
If a Floridian chooses the lump-sum option, they would receive $648.2 million – well above the minimum criteria to keep their name out of the public for three months.
After that, the winner's name, city of residence, game won, date won and amount won will be available for any third party to request. However, a winner's street address and telephone number will remain confidential, according to the Florida Lottery.
Other states have similar laws in place, such as Arizona and Georgia.
There are stipulations for Arizona winners. Those who win $600 or more are held confidential for 90 days from the date the prize is awarded. People who win at least $100,000 may choose to have their names remain permanently confidential. The exception is that the prize winner's city and county of residence are not confidential.
What states in America allow Mega Millions winners to be anonymous?
There are states that allow winners to remain anonymous forever. This includes:
State law in Delaware allows winners to remain anonymous, according to the Delaware Lottery Games.
The Kansas Lottery says winners may request to have their name and residence kept a secret, "and the Kansas Lottery is happy to honor that request," the organization says on its website.
Lottery winners have the right to remain anonymous in Maryland, according to the state's lottery organization.
"We do not release any such winner's name or photo unless the winner has specifically given us written consent to do so," Maryland's website states.
After a bill was passed in 2021, the names and cities of lottery winners collecting a prize greater than $10,000 are anonymous unless the winner chooses to go public.
The Mississippi Lottery will not disclose the identity of the lottery winner without that person's written permission, in accordance with the Alyce G. Clarke Mississippi Lottery Law.
By law, the Missouri Lottery cannot publish names of lottery winners without their prior consent, according to the state's lottery site.
The name of a Montana Lottery winner is not made public.
The Montana Lottery also says that it does not release the names of winners without permission from the winner.
For prizes over $1 million that have been claimed since 2020 legislation, the New Jersey Lottery allows winners to choose to remain anonymous.
On January 21, 2020, the New Jersey Lottery Law was changed so that winners could choose to remain anonymous indefinitely, "and the identity of winners shall not be included in materials available to public inspection under the State’s Open Public Records Act," the New Jersey Lottery stated in a 2021 press release.
In North Dakota, winners may elect to release their information or to remain anonymous.
Anonymity is also granted in the state of Ohio.
In South Carolina, winners may remain anonymous.
However, in 2021, the freedom of anonymity was challenged by a man who filed an open records request with the state Lottery Commission; he was seeking the names, contact information, date and jackpot amounts of winners of $1 million or more for a 12-month period in 2013 and 2014, according to the Associated Press (AP).
At first, the state Supreme Court sided with the man.
The commission then sued the man. A judge ruled that the release of the winners’ "personal identifying information would constitute an unreasonable invasion of personal privacy" within the meaning of the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act, according to the AP.
The judge also prohibited the man from continuing to seek information from any source.
While it wasn't always possible in Texas, lottery winners can now remain anonymous.
Specifically, a person who wins a lottery prize of $1 million or more is eligible for anonymity, according to a 2017 announcement posted by the Texas Lottery.
As of July 1, 2019, a law in Virginia allows winners of prizes greater than $10 million to choose anonymity — meaning the winner's name and residence are not released to the public, according to the Virginia Lottery's website.
Also effective in 2019, West Virginia law allows winners to remain anonymous as long as the prize won is $1 million or greater.
"All other winners are made public and listed in the winner database on wvlottery.com," the state's lottery site says.
The Wyoming Lottery Corporation says it will honor requests for anonymity from lottery winners.
READ THE FLORIDA LOTTERY’S FAQ: http://www.flalottery.com/faq
How can I anonymously claim a lottery prize if my state doesn't allow it?
As an alternative, winners might be able to form a blind trust through their attorney so that winnings can be anonymously received, State Farm advises.
Lottery winners should also keep confidential the news that they've won before they turn in a ticket, the insurance company says.
Winners should also be prepared to change their contact information, especially if state lotteries share names or require interviews or press conference participation for transparency reasons.
State Farm also warns that lottery winners should read each game’s rules and contract before signing their winning ticket.
"In some cases, signing your ticket might prevent you from creating a blind trust later," notes the insurance company’s "What to do if you win the lottery" article.
One financial adviser in the New York City area recommended putting the ticket in a bank safe deposit box until winners have completed consultations with legal and financial advisers.
Also, this adviser said to understand the rules within your particular state about whether or not you can remain anonymous. "It's very important," he said.
FOX Business contributed to this report