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Can you claim Powerball anonymously in Ohio?

Winning the lottery can be an exhilarating experience, but it also comes with significant responsibilities. Many winners opt to remain anonymous to protect their privacy and security. This raises the question – can you claim Powerball prizes anonymously in Ohio?

Quick Answer

Yes, it is possible to claim Powerball prizes anonymously in Ohio. Ohio is one of a handful of states that specifically allows lottery winners to remain anonymous if they so choose. If you win a jackpot in Ohio, you can choose to have your identity withheld from the public.

Explaining the Anonymity Option in Ohio

In 2008, Ohio passed House Bill 151 which included a provision allowing lottery winners to remain anonymous upon request. Under this law, Powerball winners can choose to have their names, addresses, and any other identifying information withheld from the public.

If you win and wish to remain anonymous, the Ohio Lottery Commission will allow you to claim the prize via a trust or other legal entity. This helps shield your identity while still ensuring the proper tax paperwork is filed. The lottery will publicly announce that the winner of a given jackpot has chosen anonymity.

It’s important to note the anonymity protection applies specifically to the winner’s identity, not the fact that they won. The Ohio Lottery will still publicly announce when a major prize has been claimed in their state. They simply won’t reveal the name and personal details of the winner if anonymity has been requested.

Requirements for Remaining Anonymous

Choosing to collect a Powerball prize anonymously in Ohio comes with a few requirements:

  • You must establish a trust or LLC to claim the prize money on your behalf
  • Proper tax documentation must still be filed with state and federal agencies
  • You must pay for legal and accounting services to facilitate the anonymous claim
  • You cannot reveal your secret identity to the public

As long as you satisfy these requirements, the Ohio Lottery Commission will withhold your personal information from public release. They will identify you only as the “XYZ Trust” or something similar when announcing the jackpot has been claimed.

How Anonymity Claims Work

Claiming a lottery prize anonymously requires careful coordination with attorneys and financial advisors. Here are the general steps involved:

  1. Establish a legal entity such as a trust or LLC to represent your anonymous interests
  2. Transfer legal ownership of the lottery ticket to the entity to remove your personal association
  3. Have the entity claim the prize money at lottery headquarters on your behalf
  4. The lottery will issue payment (less taxes withheld) to your legal entity
  5. Work with advisors to thoughtfully manage the net proceeds moving forward under anonymity

Make sure to choose trusted legal and financial representatives who can discreetly handle the logistics while maintaining your anonymity. It’s also wise to establish the trust/LLC in a state that allows anonymous claims like Ohio or Delaware.

Tax Implications

Remaining anonymous does not exempt you from paying taxes on lottery winnings. Federal tax law requires 24% of the jackpot amount to be immediately withheld for federal tax purposes upon claim. State and local taxes may also apply, depending on your residency.

Your legal entity will need to file IRS Form 5754 showing the breakdown of winners (even if it’s just you), their tax ID numbers, and where to send tax forms like a 1099-MISC. Your personal identifying information is redacted on the public version of Form 5754.

Work closely with CPAs and tax attorneys to ensure full compliance with federal and state tax regulations while maintaining anonymity.

Public Records Laws

In some states, lottery winner names are considered public record information that must be disclosed under Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. However, Ohio’s anonymity law specifically exempts lottery winners from public records requests.

As long as you claim properly through an anonymous entity, neither the Ohio Lottery Commission nor any other agency will release your identifying details in response to public records requests. Your anonymity is protected by state statute.

Pros and Cons of Remaining Anonymous

Here are some key pros and cons to weigh when deciding if you should claim a Powerball jackpot anonymously in Ohio:


  • Avoids public attention and scrutiny on your sudden wealth
  • Protects your privacy and personal security
  • Lets you live your life more freely without fame or notoriety
  • Reduces risk of unwanted requests for money from others
  • Lessens likelihood of becoming target for scams or lawsuits


  • Can be more complicated logistically than standard claim
  • Requires added legal and accounting expenses
  • May still deal with some publicity since the win itself is public
  • Need to manage anonymity carefully long-term

Famous Anonymous Lottery Winners

While most anonymous lottery winners simply vanish from the spotlight, a few high-profile cases have arisen over the years:

Jane Doe (South Carolina, 2018) – $1.5 billion Mega Millions

The winner of a $1.5 billion Mega Millions jackpot in October 2018 remains completely anonymous to this day. South Carolina allows anonymity, so “Jane Doe” claimed her record prize via a trust.

The Robin Hood Group (Michigan, 2000) – $363 million

In 2000, a 5-member anonymous group in Michigan called “The Robin Hood Group” split a $363 million jackpot. Their name referenced a mission to donate part of the money.

Abraham Shakespeare (Florida, 2006) – $30 million

Abraham Shakespeare infamously won a $30 million Florida Lotto jackpot in 2006 and later had his identity stolen by a convicted murderer. His cautionary tale highlights the importance of careful anonymity.

How Long Anonymity Lasts

In Ohio, your anonymity has no expiration date. As long as you follow proper procedures, the state will permanently withhold your personal information from the public regarding a Powerball jackpot claim.

You must be vigilant in protecting your identity, however. Signing agreements, making purchases, or otherwise leaving identifying trails could reveal your secret over time. Stay disciplined about maintaining anonymity for the long run.

Getting Legal and Financial Advice

Consult qualified legal and financial professionals before claiming a jackpot anonymously. Key experts you’ll need include:

  • Estate attorney – To establish blind trust or LLC to claim ticket
  • Tax attorney – Provide guidance on IRS reporting requirements
  • CPA – File proper tax returns and manage tax payments
  • Financial planner – Invest winnings wisely and steward ongoing finances

Finding advisors you can trust is critical since you are entrusting them with your secret identity and financial well-being. Take time to carefully vet any experts before moving forward.

Claiming Smaller Prizes Anonymously

For smaller Powerball prizes below the jackpot level, such as $1 million or $100,000, you may be able to claim anonymously directly through the Ohio Lottery Commission. Their website states:

“The Ohio Lottery will honor requests for anonymity from winners of claim amounts less than the threshold amounts, unless otherwise prohibited by law.”

Contact the Ohio Lottery Claims Office for current guidelines on remaining anonymous for smaller prizes. For huge jackpots, using a lawyer and financial entity is still recommended.

Other States Allowing Anonymity

In addition to Ohio, some other states allowing Powerball winners to remain anonymous include:

State Anonymity Details
Delaware Can claim through LLC or trust
Kansas Identity withheld from open records requests
Maryland Can opt out of publicity
North Dakota Winners not in open records law
South Carolina Can claim through LLC or trust

Check current lottery laws if you buy tickets and reside outside of Ohio. Anonymity rules differ from state to state.

Taxes When Remaining Anonymous

While anonymity protects your identity, it doesn’t change how taxes apply to major lottery prizes. Here are some key tax considerations if you win big:

  • Federal taxes withheld immediately – 24% for US citizens
  • Potential state tax withholding in your resident state
  • Income reported anonymously via legal entity on Form 5754
  • Pay appropriate gift tax if funding a trust to claim prize
  • May face higher tax rate on individual income over $500,000
  • No avoiding taxes but good to minimize with planning

Work closely with legal and tax experts to ensure you fully satisfy federal and state tax obligations while remaining anonymous.

Using an Anonymous Trust

Setting up an anonymous trust provides a key strategy for claiming a jackpot anonymously in Ohio. Here are some tips if using a trust:

  • Establish trust in a state that permits anonymous claims like DE or SD
  • Name a bank or law firm as trustee to further shield identity
  • Make sure trust documents are air tight to avoid exposing you
  • Transfer lottery ticket ownership to the trust ASAP after winning
  • Have the trust claim the cash, pay taxes, and manage ongoing finances
  • Carefully distribute funds to yourself as beneficiary of the trust

The main downside of utilizing a trust is that it incurs upfront legal costs to establish. You also need an extremely reliable trustee to carry out your wishes.

LLCs for Anonymous Claims

In lieu of a trust, some winners create a limited liability company (LLC) to claim prizes anonymously in states like Ohio. Benefits of an LLC include:

  • Relatively quick and cheap to establish
  • Clear legal structure for anonymity
  • Can name another agent as registered agent to shield identity
  • Allows opening business bank accounts and investing easily

The LLC claiming the ticket would need to report earnings and pay taxes. An LLC also may need ongoing state registration and fees to maintain anonymity protections.

What If You Publicly Announce Before Anonymity?

Some lottery winners are so excited in the moment that they publicly announce their win before considering anonymity. This can unfortunately disqualify you from making an anonymous claim down the road.

If you’ve already gone public, consult immediately with legal counsel about your options. Moving quickly to establish an anonymous entity of some kind and removing traces of public announcement may help preserve anonymity.

Can You Remain Anonymous in Person?

When claiming a prize in person, the Ohio Lottery will allow you to wear disguises to conceal your identity. Some options include:

  • Wearing a wig, hat, sunglasses, or mask
  • Obscuring identifiable facial features with cosmetics
  • Dressing in non-distinctive clothing that hides your frame
  • Using modifiers in your voice like an accent or higher pitch
  • Having an attorney claim on your behalf

Take precautions when appearing in person to collect winnings. Avoid bringing friends or family who might reveal your identity.

Previous Anonymous Winners in Ohio

Since anonymity became an option in Ohio, there have been some notable anonymous winners:

Jane Doe (2018) – $372 million

In 2018, a woman identified only as Jane Doe claimed a $372 million Powerball jackpot via a trust. She has never revealed herself.

The Buckeye 17 (2008) – $261 million

When Ohio first allowed anonymity in 2008, a group of 17 Ohio office workers came forward anonymously as The Buckeye 17 to claim a $261 million Mega Millions prize.

John Doe (2007) – $65 million

A winner identified officially as John Doe claimed a $65 million Mega Millions jackpot in 2007 shortly after Ohio’s anonymity law passed. His identity remains unpublished.

Initial Steps to Remain Anonymous

If you win a jackpot and want anonymity, act quickly on these key steps:

  1. Don’t reveal win publicly or to contacts
  2. Tell only trustworthy necessary people like attorneys
  3. Secure ticket safely until ready to claim
  4. Engage lawyer to establish anonymous entity
  5. Transfer ticket ownership to the entity

The sooner you take measures to claim anonymously after winning, the better. This helps avoid situations where you end up identified publicly.

Downsides of Going Public

Reasons you may want to avoid having your identity revealed as a major lottery winner include:

  • Loss of privacy – Constant public scrutiny
  • Security concerns – Potential theft or harm
  • Damage to relationships – Trust issues arise
  • Unwanted attention – Persistent appeals for money
  • Legal claims – Higher risk of lawsuits

For many winners, the headaches of public attention outweigh the benefits of open publicity. Anonymity allows focusing on your own needs.

Who Must Know About Anonymity?

When claiming anonymously, your identity can remain secret from the general public. But you will likely need to reveal your win privately to:

  • Attorneys who establish your legal entity
  • Financial planners who invest the money
  • Tax professionals who report income and handle taxes
  • Very close family you want to benefit

Take care in who you tell about the windfall. Even confiding in close friends can accidentally expose you. Keep the circle of confidence extremely small.

Changing Identity if Anonymity Compromised

If your anonymous identity eventually becomes known publicly, you may then consider taking more dramatic measures such as:

  • Legally changing your name and obtaining new IDs
  • Moving to a new location domestically or abroad
  • Undergoing cosmetic procedures to change appearance
  • Deleting or going anonymous on social media

Take steps to establish a “new you” unconnected to the past lottery win if your attempts at anonymity fall apart over time.


Claiming lottery prizes anonymously is an appealing option for many winners. Ohio provides a pathway to remain anonymous when winning Powerball jackpots. Just be sure to plan carefully and engage experienced legal support to facilitate collecting a prize confidentially through a blind trust or other entity. With proper planning, you can enjoy lottery fortunes privately for years to come.