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Lottery Winner Publicity

Choosing whether to opt for publicity or stay anonymous after a big lottery win is one of the first major decisions to make after hitting a jackpot. With vast sums of cash available for players of games such as Irish Lotto and EuroMillions, there are pros and cons of revealing your identity to the nation’s press as you pick up a giant cheque.

The Irish National Lottery states that it “respects the wishes of every prize winner in relation to what they wish to happen regarding being a public or private winner.” Here the options available to winners.

Going Public

An advantage of going public with a big lottery win is that you don’t have to worry about keeping a huge secret. Many lottery winners feel they could not enjoy their win if they were lying to friends and family about their newfound fortune and, in the case of those who claim gigantic prizes, the trappings of wealth would be very difficult to disguise. Releasing their story into the public domain means they don’t have to constantly worry about keeping up a façade.

Sometimes rumours about the identities of winners leak out, meaning that staying anonymous is no longer an option. On Friday 1st July 2016, a syndicate of Dublin bus workers scooped €23.8 million on EuroMillions and one of the winners confirmed their good fortune to a newspaper over the weekend before the group had chance to contact lottery officials on the following Monday. The press had already pieced together a number of stories about the men before they were officially unveiled as the winners at a ceremony on the Thursday.

The Irish National Lottery organises initial press conferences with winners who choose to go public, preparing them for the event and the aftermath. The lottery also deals with any further requests for interviews at a later date, as long as they have the full agreement of the winner.

Staying Private

Many big winners prefer to stay anonymous to avoid claims on their cash from family and friends, particularly those who have only a distant connection and might be making contact only because they heard about a lottery winner’s good fortune. A large windfall can test relationships and magnify rifts, with the potential to cause arguments as some acquaintances feel they deserve a greater cut of the winnings than others.

Avoiding publicity can also stop the winner receiving unwanted attention from members of the public, usually in the form of begging letters. Dolores McNamara was the winner of Ireland’s biggest ever lottery jackpot when she landed €115.4 million on EuroMillions in August 2005, taking the publicity option. It was reported that her local Post Office in Limerick had to add in an extra two deliveries a day to cope with all the letters being sent to her in the lead up to Christmas of that year.

A big winner receiving such communication has no way of knowing whether the requests are genuine and is put in a situation whereby they may feel bad for turning the pleas down.

Although the Irish National Lottery reveals the location at which most jackpot winning tickets were bought, it holds back that information for major EuroMillions wins, with the details remaining a secret if the winner chooses to stay private. A syndicate of friends picked up €66 million in January 2016 to become Ireland’s fourth biggest lottery winners and they chose to stay anonymous, meaning the location of the shop at which they bought their ticket was never published.

Partial Publicity

Many Irish Lottery winners choose to avoid having their names made public, but to reveal some details about their life and their plans for the money. A EuroMillions Plus winner in April 2016 admitted he only found his ticket, worth €500,000, because his wife had ordered him to tidy their bedroom. He announced they would pay off their mortgage and fund their children’s education with their surprise win.

A family who bought their Irish Lotto ticket in Dun Laoghaire for the Irish Lotto draw on 19th September 2015 claimed a €7.3 million jackpot and did not reveal their identities, but excitedly declared they would use some of the cash to fund a trip to Disneyland, help out animal charities and to buy a mansion with an indoor slide “so we can get downstairs quicker!”

Irish National Lottery Winners’ Advice

All Irish Lottery winners of €2 million or more receive a document and DVD offering advice on a number of topics to help them handle the shock of their big win. The material includes tips on choosing advisors, accessing legal and financial help and how to make a difference with the lottery winnings.

Lottery Publicity Myths

There have been some suggestions that players who choose to stay private do not receive their full prize, or that those that allow publicity are incentivised to do so. However, the Irish National Lottery’s own Code of Practice for participants explicitly prohibits the company from offering inducements to talk to the press.