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Posted at 11:08 AM ET, 04/10/2012

Maryland Mega Millions winners not the first to stay anonymous

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.


Three anonymous winners of the Maryland portion of the Mega Millions lottery pick up their mega-check in Baltimore on Tuesday. (AP courtesy Maryland State Lottery Agency)


Stephen Martino, director of the Maryland Lottery, at the news conference in Baltimore on Tuesday. (Steve Ruark - AP)
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.”

By  |  11:08 AM ET, 04/10/2012

 
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