Can You Stay Anonymous After Winning the Lottery in Canada?
Winning a large amount on the lottery is an amazing and life-changing experience. It allows you to realise all the dreams that you have ever had, help friends and family achieve financial security, and engage in philanthropic activities to help countless people. However, sometimes this great gift comes with a curse. Friends that you haven’t heard from in decades may begin trying to reconnect and asking for money, scammers may impersonate you and taint your name, and you may even find yourself in danger of being harmed.
All this is due to the fact that almost all provinces in Canada and most states in America require you to share your name when winning big publicly. However, for the sake of sanity and safety, you may not want to do this. In this article, we will look answering the question of whether you can stay anonymous after winning the lottery in Canada.
Why the Publicity?
The first question that you may have is why lotteries insist on publishing the names, location, and generally a picture of winners who have won big. However, there is an entirely understandable reason for the lottery organiser to want to do this.
Showing other players that the lottery was won by a person and not by a corporation or other entity helps solidify the fact that anybody can win the lottery. This builds faith in the lottery and is a method used by the lottery to appear transparent. After all, if you see that an average Joe has won millions of dollars, the chances are your hope in being the next big winner will remain strong. For this reason and others, most lottery operators insist on winners having their 15 minutes of fame.
Consequences of Publicity When Winning the Lottery
As you may imagine, having your name published—internationally since big wins are often discussed in other countries—after winning a large amount of money very quickly leads to people looking into your life. From websites writing articles about your life prior to the win to people trying to figure out what formula you used to win, there will be endless interested parties that will all be focused on you. Generally, this is harmless and other than receiving a few calls for an interview or a few emails asking about your life before the win, you should be able to enjoy your winnings without having to worry.
Unfortunately, in other instances, you may not be so lucky and will not be able to enjoy your winnings freely and easily. This may be because a scammer has decided to use your name in order to scam innocent people out of their money—like what happened with the Mavis Wanczyk scam.
Other times it is not strangers that cause you not to enjoy your winnings—but people that you know. Family and friends could soon come knocking, hoping that you will be willing to hand out cash to them and help them out since you likely have more money than you know what to do with. However, sometimes these friends and family could be people that you are not even remotely close to, and that would not have contacted you had you not won. It’s not uncommon for past love interests, friends, and cousins to suddenly reappear in people’s lives after they’ve won a big jackpot.
There is, however, something worse than annoying contacts from the past and having to prove that you are not giving away free money on Twitter—a real threat of danger. There have been countless cases of people that have been ruthless when trying to steal somebody else’s lottery winnings. And in the case of Craigory Burch Jr., having his name publicly announced resulted in his murder.
For all of these reasons, in some countries, such as China, it is completely normal for winners to claim their prizes anonymously. In fact, many get creative with how they do so and show up in masks and even elaborate costumes.
Can You Stay Anonymous After Winning the Lottery in Canada?
The quick answer to this question is yes—you can technically stay anonymous after winning the lottery in Canada. However, do not think that this is your choice or be deceived into thinking that achieving this will be an easy task. As mentioned above, almost all provinces in Canada require winners to have their names published in order to claim their prize. To date, there is only one method that has proven successful in preventing this from happening.
This method involves providing proof and just cause that you could potentially be in danger should your name be publicly announced. The evidence that you present will be analysed by the lottery organisation, and they will need to deem whether there is sufficient concern for your safety to justify protecting your identity. One time that this did occur was in 2014 when an unknown lottery player won $13.6 million by playing the Ontario lottery. Due to what the lottery claimed were ‘personal reasons,’ only the fact that the ticket was sold in Markham was announced. All information relating to who the winner was is still a secret to this day.
Unfortunately, a lottery ruling in favour of a player’s request to remain anonymous is a rather uncommon occurrence. This is mainly due to the fact mentioned above that relates to publicity for the lottery. However, it might still be possible to do if you set up a lottery trust to claim the winnings for you instead.
Knowing all the consequences that come with winning a large amount of money from the lottery is something that could detract a bit from the joy of winning. Unfortunately, knowing that almost all of these consequences are directly related to your name being made known for the sole purpose of lottery publicity is something that could diminish that joy even more.
Thankfully, if you do feel that you will be in grave danger should your name be released after you win big, you can apply to have yourself protected. While there is no guarantee that any Canadian lottery operators will grant your request and allow you to remain anonymous, if your concerns and fears are valid, it is still nice knowing that you at least have the option to try and stay under the radar.
For more tips, check out our advice for Canadian lottery winners.