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Should Lottery Winners' Names Be Kept Private?

Does the public have the right to immediately know lottery winners’ names?

Someone’s life may have changed yesterday when the $425 million Powerball was drawn. If the lucky winner lives in New Jersey, should he or she get to remain anonymous, at least for a while?

A state assemblyman thinks so, The (Bergen) Record reports. Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester/Salem) is proposing a bill to keep lottery winners’ names private for a year. Lottery winners’ names and contact information are public and for-profit companies make about 70 requests annually for that information, The Record says.

Burzichelli says his bill would give lottery winners some breathing room from firms eager to offer financial advice (for a fee, of course) and even from long-lost relatives and friends who suddenly need financial help from the winner.

Not so fast, says an attorney for the New Jersey Foundation for Open Government, who believes transparency in the lottery is vital.

“As soon as you make this stuff secret, you’re going to find every politically connected person winning it,” The Record quotes Walter Luers as saying. “We’re seeking secrecy for secrecy’s sake.”

What do you think—should privacy concerns trump transparency in the lottery? 

And if you’re planning to play the lottery no matter who could find out your name, remember the $425 million Powerball will be drawn Wednesday, Nov. 28. Tickets are $2 each and you can choose between an annual payout or a lump sum worth $278.3 million.

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