We may uncover little else about the two Maryland teachers and a school office worker who will split a giant cardboard check and a $105 million lottery prize. But it wouldn’t be the first time a winner has chosen to remain anonymous and thus leave the rest of us to guess about the lives of the lucky winners.
In fact, lotto anonymity is something of a trend. Maryland Lottery spokeswoman Carole Everett said that out of eight Mega Millions winners since 2002, only one has made his identity public. Winners of the latest record-smashing Mega Millions prize in Illinois and Kansas have decided to stay off the grid, as well.
And in the District, when an 82-year-old man anonymously scooped up a $144 million Powerball jackpot, his attorney received 80 calls on the day the man won.
It’s not hard to see why some winners cherish their privacy.
“It’s a natural human wish to maintain privacy when you have a lightning bolt strike you and you have a life-changing event,” Edmund Alves, an attorney for a recent winner in Rhode Island, told the Associated Press last week. “There are a lot of people approaching you from all sides for donations, gifts and whatever, and you want to just stay under the radar.”
Perhaps nobody exemplifies the public’s intense, witch-hunt mentality about lottery winners than Mirlande Wilson, a woman who claimed a win but then shrunk away from the limelight after claiming she lost the winning ticket. Her life was dissected in a matter of hours by the press, her co-workers and countless others during the tale’s strange trajectory. Was she a cheat? A liar? An operative for the anti-Mitt Romney camp? The world may never know.
In any case, nary a word was mentioned about Wilson on Tuesday. But we do have one clue about the winners: Stephen Martino, the state’s lottery director, acknowledged that everyone plays the lottery to win, “but if it can’t be you, these are precisely the people you want to see win.”