Skip to Content

Can you stay anonymous after winning the lottery in PA?

Winning the lottery is a dream come true for many people. The sudden influx of money can be life-changing. However, it also comes with its own set of challenges. One major consideration for lottery winners is whether to remain anonymous or publicly claim the prize. Anonymity allows you to avoid publicity and protect your privacy. However, it also comes with legal and practical limitations. Pennsylvania is one of a handful of U.S. states that allows lottery winners to remain anonymous under certain conditions. Here is an in-depth look at the question: can you stay anonymous after winning the lottery in Pennsylvania?

An Overview of Lottery Anonymity Rules in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania lottery winners can remain anonymous if they meet certain requirements:

  • Prizes over $1 million – For jackpots of $1 million or more, winners can request anonymity and remain anonymous indefinitely. Their identity will not be made public by the Pennsylvania Lottery.
  • Prizes under $1 million – For prizes under $1 million, winners can request a one-year anonymity period. Their name and hometown will be disclosed after one year.
  • Trusts and other entities – If the prize is claimed by a trust or legal entity instead of an individual, anonymity can be maintained indefinitely regardless of prize amount.
  • Lottery retailers – If the winner is a retailer who sold the winning ticket, they cannot remain anonymous regardless of prize amount.

These policies apply to winners of annuity prizes as well as lump sum payouts. Winners must proactively choose the “anonymous” option when submitting their claim in order to remain anonymous.

How to Claim Anonymity in Pennsylvania

Here is the process to claim a Pennsylvania lottery prize anonymously:

  1. Purchase the winning ticket – Buy a ticket from an authorized Pennsylvania Lottery retailer and match the winning numbers for a jackpot prize.
  2. Sign the ticket – Sign your name on the back of the winning ticket. This establishes ownership of the ticket.
  3. Consult with advisors – Speak with financial advisors, lawyers, accountants to decide how to claim your prize for maximum anonymity.
  4. Set up a trust – To remain anonymous for prizes of any amount, set up a trust and have the trust claim the prize. Assign trustees to manage the trust assets on your behalf.
  5. Submit claim form – Complete the claim form electing the “anonymous” option. For prizes over $1 million, this permanently anonymizes your win.
  6. Provide two forms of ID – Submit two forms of personal ID to verify your identity and eligibility.
  7. Complete tax forms – Fill out tax forms including IRS Form 5754 to split ownership of the prize for tax purposes if you set up a trust.
  8. Collect your winnings – Claim your prize check from an authorized Pennsylvania Lottery retailer. For lump sums above $250,000, your check will be mailed to you.

Following these steps carefully enables you to claim major lottery prizes in Pennsylvania while keeping your identity private.

Pros of Remaining Anonymous

Here are some of the benefits of remaining anonymous as a major lottery winner:

  • Avoid publicity – You can sidestep media attention, interviews, press conferences, and having your name/photo published publicly.
  • Maintain privacy – Keeping your lottery win private lets you keep living your life as you see fit without outside scrutiny.
  • Prevent harassment – Anonymous winners avoid long lost friends, aggressive charities, scam artists, and constant solicitation.
  • Apply to any prize amount – Using a trust allows you to anonymize lottery wins of any size in Pennsylvania.
  • Indefinite anonymity – For prizes over $1 million, once anonymity is chosen, your name can stay out of the public record permanently.

For winners who prefer to keep a low profile, requesting anonymity provides major advantages. Your family, friends, and community do not necessarily need to know about your changed financial circumstances.

Cons of Remaining Anonymous

There are also some drawbacks to consider about remaining anonymous as a lottery winner:

  • Complicated to set up – Establishing a blind trust or other legal entities to claim a prize can be complex and requires expert help.
  • May arouse suspicions – Refusing publicity may make some people suspect you are hiding something.
  • Limited anonymity period – For smaller prizes under $1 million, your name will eventually be disclosed publicly after one year.
  • Prohibited for retailers – In Pennsylvania, lottery retailers who sell winning tickets are unable to remain anonymous.
  • Tax complications – Claiming a prize through a trust involves additional tax documentation and ownership issues.
  • Not allowed in all states – Anonymity rules vary across different U.S. states. Some states mandate all winners’ names be made public regardless of the prize amount.

As a result, claiming lottery prizes anonymously requires forethought and deliberate planning. You also give up the potential publicity that major winners often gain.

Maintaining Anonymity Long-Term

Once you claim a lottery prize anonymously in Pennsylvania, you need to take steps to maintain anonymity long-term:

  • Avoid public splurges – Making extravagant high-profile purchases can attract media attention and speculation.
  • Keep circle of trust small – The fewer who know about your windfall, the lower your chances of being identified publicly.
  • Use advisors to collect winnings – Have financial advisors, lawyers, or accountants collect winnings on your behalf.
  • Move carefully – Be selective about changing jobs, moving homes, or relocating to avoid drawing notice.
  • Make prudent investments – Invest windfalls conservatively instead of spending lavishly to avoid forced disclosure of assets.
  • Setup security – Install security systems and secure online access to monitor finances and protect anonymity.
  • Watch social media – Be careful about online activity that could reveal your financial situation or lottery activities.

Maintaining a low profile and handling finances discretely will help sustain anonymity over the long run. You still need to be mindful since determined efforts can potentially uncover the identity of anonymous winners.

Claiming Prizes as a Legal Entity

Another option to sustain anonymity indefinitely in Pennsylvania is to claim lottery prizes through a legal entity instead of as an individual. Examples include:

  • Blind Trust – Assets are controlled by trustees for benefit of unnamed beneficiaries. Trustees have a fiduciary duty to manage assets based on your instructions without disclosing beneficiary names.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Provides liability protections and allows lottery prizes to be claimed anonymously with a Federal EIN number instead of Social Security number.
  • Corporation – Organizations afford asset protection and anonymity. Ownership stakes are designated through shares of stock instead of individual identities.
  • Partnerships – Multiple individuals can claim ownership shares of a lottery ticket through partnerships or LP/LLLP entities while keeping partner identities private.

Various kinds of legal entities provide flexibility for securely taking ownership of lottery prizes while remaining nameless. However, professional legal and tax advice is recommended given the complexities involved.

Pitfalls of Attempting Anonymity

While anonymous lottery wins have major advantages, there are also potential pitfalls to avoid:

  • Incorrectly filling out claim forms – One mistake in requesting anonymity can result in your name being publicized.
  • Using individual names on trusts – Naming yourself as beneficiary of a trust claims the prize under your individual name and forfeits anonymity.
  • Mentioning winnings to unsavory parties – Word getting out about your winnings raises chances of being taken advantage of.
  • Not paying taxes properly – Improperly handling taxes on winnings could lead to forfeiture of anonymity.
  • Splurging on purchases – Major buys can invite scrutiny and media attention.
  • Bragging about winnings – Even hinting about lottery wins to outsiders jeopardizes sustaining anonymity.
  • Failing to collect as legal entity – Attempting to collect winnings as an individual that are claimed by a trust or other legal entity will result in loss of anonymity.

Staying vigilant is necessary to avoid miscues that surrender your anonymity when collecting lottery winnings. Consult legal and financial advisors to ensure claiming procedures are followed precisely.

Key Considerations for Anonymity in Pennsylvania

Some important factors to keep in mind about remaining anonymous as a Pennsylvania lottery winner:

  • Anonymity is not automatic – You must specifically request the anonymous option when submitting your claim.
  • For prizes over $1 million, anonymity is indefinite – Once requested, your name will not be disclosed publicly by the Lottery for jackpots over $1 million.
  • Use a trust to anonymize any prize amount – Prizes claimed through properly setup trusts allow anonymity to be maintained on wins of any size.
  • Avoid mentioning your winnings – Keep winnings confidential from outsiders to avoid jeopardizing your anonymity.
  • Collect as a legal entity – Have your winnings paid to and collected by a trust, LLC, corporation or other legal entity to preserve anonymity.
  • Stay low key – Maintain a low profile with modest spending and lifestyle to avoid drawing attention and speculation.
  • Seek expert advice – Consult with lawyers and financial planners to navigate arrangements necessary for properly taking ownership of winnings anonymously.

Carefully following all policies, protocols, and procedures enables Pennsylvania lottery winners to keep their identities private and enjoy their good fortune away from the spotlight.

Lottery Anonymity in Other States

Rules for remaining anonymous as a lottery winner vary significantly across different U.S. states. Here are some key examples:

State Anonymity Allowed? Details
Delaware Yes Can remain anonymous on prizes over $10,000.
Kansas Yes Names disclosed publicly but winners can request anonymity.
Maryland No All winners’ names and hometowns are released.
Ohio Yes Winners can stay anonymous on large prizes claimed through trusts.
Texas No Winners must be identified publicly regardless of jackpot size.

As shown above, policies vary widely between states when it comes to lottery winner anonymity. Some states like Delaware and Ohio allow for anonymity, while other states like Texas prohibit it. Checking your specific state’s lottery rules is important if you wish to keep your winnings confidential.

Tax Implications

Claiming lottery prizes anonymously does not exempt you from paying taxes. Taxes must still be paid on winnings:

  • Federal taxes – Federal income tax is withheld at a 24% flat rate for lump sum payouts over $5,000.
  • State taxes – Pennsylvania imposes a 3.07% tax on lottery winnings.
  • IRS reporting – Jackpots over $600 require reporting to the IRS using Form W-2G. This applies even if claimed anonymously.
  • Tax liability – Taxes can be paid through a legal entity without identifying underlying individual beneficiaries.

Proper tax planning and compliance is necessary when taking ownership of lottery prizes through anonymous entities. Expect to still pay applicable federal and state taxes on winnings.

How Lottery Winnings Can Be Spent Anonymously

Major lottery winners seeking anonymity need to be careful about how they spend their newfound wealth. Here are some tips:

  • Avoid large visible purchases – Buying expensive houses, cars, and yachts draws attention.
  • Use advisors for major transactions – Have financial managers and trustees handle big ticket purchases anonymously through legal entities.
  • Pay bills through trusts – Covering everyday expenses through properly established trusts avoids leaving a paper trail.
  • Make conservative investments – Invest windfalls discreetly in blue chip stocks and bonds instead of riskier ventures.
  • Donate through donor-advised funds – Contribute to charitable causes anonymously via donor advised funds.
  • Pay taxes – Settle tax obligations using tax ID numbers of anonymous ownership entities.

Living lavishly makes remaining anonymous practically impossible. Modest spending and using advisors to handle large transactions helps avoid public visibility of lottery winnings.

Do’s and Don’ts

Here are some key do’s and don’ts to bear in mind about staying anonymous as a Pennsylvania lottery winner:


  • Confirm your state’s anonymity rules
  • Consult professional advisors to setup an appropriate legal entity
  • Submit paperwork to claim prizes anonymously
  • Collect winnings discreetly through your anonymous ownership vehicle
  • Pay all taxes owed
  • Invest windfalls conservatively
  • Maintain a low profile


  • Claim prizes as an individual
  • Tell friends and relatives about your lottery win
  • Splurge on luxury purchases
  • Neglect paying taxes properly
  • Depart abruptly from your current lifestyle
  • Do anything to draw media attention
  • Provide hints about your win on social media

Carefully following proper procedures enables Pennsylvania lottery winners to prudently gain financial security while remaining out of the public eye.


Winning the lottery provides amazing opportunities but also difficult decisions. In Pennsylvania, lottery winners can choose anonymity for prizes over $1 million. Remaining anonymous shields you from publicity but requires meticulous planning. If you win big, consult financial and legal advisors to setup an appropriate entity to claim your prize confidentially. Handle windfalls discreetly, make conservative investments, pay all taxes, and maintain a low profile. With care and prudence, Pennsylvania lottery winners can keep their names private and live their lives away from the spotlight.