Can Michigan Lottery Winners Remain Anonymous?

Find out the rules about staying anonymous in Michigan if you win a major lottery prize. It is a topic that has sparked debate throughout the state for years and remains on the agenda for lawmakers, leaving players to wonder if they can shield their identities or would have to go public.

Currently, the regulations are different for in-state lotteries and multi-state games. Big winners can stay anonymous for in-state games, but not for Powerball or Mega Millions.

Type of Lottery Can Winners Stay Anonymous?
In-State (E.g. Lotto 47, Fantasy 5) Winners of $10,000 or more can stay anonymous
Multi-State (E.g. Mega Millions, Powerball) No. Winner information can be disclosed about any prize

House Bill 4218 was introduced by state representatives in 2021. If passed, it would give multi-state lottery winners the choice over whether they went public or stayed anonymous. The legislation passed a House Committee 107-1 but is still waiting further review by the Senate. It would need to clear the Senate and be signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer to become law.

In-State Lotteries

If you win a prize of up to $10,000 in a Michigan state lottery such as Lotto 47 or Fantasy 5, your identity may be disclosed. However, if you win $10,000 or more in one of these lotteries, you have the right to anonymity. The Michigan Lottery can only release details about winners of this magnitude with their written consent.

The decision over whether to stay anonymous or go public rests entirely with you if you are a big winner of a state lottery. Michigan Lottery officials, and financial advisers, can guide you about the pros and cons of each option, but the choice you make would not affect your payout.

While some players may enjoy the spotlight of publicity, or perhaps see opportunities to set up business ventures or charitable foundations, others prefer to carry on with life as normally as possible. The majority of big Lotto 47 and Fantasy 5 winners have opted to remain private.

Multi-State Lotteries

If you win a Powerball or Mega Millions prize, it is regarded as public information and state law allows for your identity to be disclosed. This applies to prizes of any value but it is only usually the winners in the top two or three categories who are revealed. Your name, city and prize amount will therefore be made public. Other details, such as your social security number, will remain confidential.

The reason that publicity is mandatory is that a lack of information about big winners could prove to be damaging. If players start to doubt that winners are real and question where the money is going, it becomes harder to generate publicity and advertise prizes, potentially leading to a decrease in ticket sales.

In reality, these multi-state lotteries are closely audited and draws take place under tight security, and some politicians have argued that greater consideration should be given to the safety of the winners themselves. In an era where it is easy to search for personal information online, there is more risk for winners who could become targets for unwanted attention or criminality.

Other states have increasingly allowed winners to remain anonymous in recent years, and there have been repeated attempts in Michigan to pass a bill into law which would let players stay private if they won.

Group Anonymity

While winners are required to go public for multi-state lotteries, it is still possible to remain anonymous by playing in a lottery club. The name of the group must be disclosed, as well as at least one individual who is the designated representative. However, the identities of the other members of the club do not have to be released.

Anyone can form a lottery club, as long as they are of legal playing age. Members do not even have to live in Michigan, while a club can also be formed after the date of a draw. For example, when the Wolverine FFL Club were revealed to be the winners of a $1.05 billion Mega Millions jackpot in January 2021, the representative was a lawyer from Florida. He acted as the spokesperson and the identities of the other three club members were never disclosed.