Putting Lottery Winners On Display



Merle and Pat Butler of Red Bud, Ill., look happy in the video that has been circulating online. That’s not surprising, because in the video, Merle Butler is holding a novelty check for over $218 million.

He was the last of three winners to claim a share of the $656 million Mega Millions lottery prize that set the record for the largest jackpot in U.S. history.

Most likely, all three winners were pleased. But the Butlers were the only ones whose smiles were broadcast to the world. Maybe they enjoyed their turn in the spotlight; my guess is that they were just being good sports and would have preferred to keep the news quiet.

Unlike the other winners, however, the Butlers did not have a choice in the matter. Illinois requires that its lottery winners present their beaming faces for news conferences and other promotional appearances unless they have “compelling reasons” not to.

In fact, only six states – Kansas, Maryland, Delaware, Michigan, North Dakota and Ohio – allow lottery winners to remain anonymous. As it happened, the other two Mega Millions winners were from Kansas and Maryland. At a news conference, a poster stood in for the Kansas winner. The Maryland ticket belonged to three public school employees, who, like the Butlers, posed with a novelty check, but did so while holding the check, made out to “The Three Amigos,” over their faces.

The other 37 states that run lotteries, along with the District of  togel hari ini  Columbia, differ in just how much publicity they require of winners. Some, like Illinois, insist on dragging winners before a camera, while others simply publish the winners’ names and let media hounds follow the trail. In some places, including Colorado, Connecticut and Vermont, winners can evade the spotlight by forming a trust or a limited liability company to claim the money on their behalf. However, at least one state, Oregon, explicitly forbids this practice. I can’t imagine the strategy would play well in states that require news conferences, either. No matter where one stands on issues of corporate personhood, trusts and limited liability companies are notoriously un-photogenic.

 

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