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Lottery Winner Publicity

Every big lottery winner in Ireland gets to choose whether to remain anonymous or to publicise the win and allow their identity to be revealed. Should you win a big prize this decision would be yours alone; you receive the same level of support from the National Lottery regardless of which option you choose.

It's useful to know what the pros and cons of going public and staying private are, so you can make an informed decision should the situation arise. With that in mind, you can find out all you know about the question of whether to go public or not below.

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    Going Public

    One advantage of going public with a big lottery win is that you don’t have to worry about keeping such a huge secret. Some lottery winners feel they could not enjoy their win if they were lying to friends and family about their newfound fortune.

    Should you be lucky enough to win the biggest prizes of all, the trappings of wealth could be very difficult to disguise. Releasing your story into the public domain could mean that you don’t have to constantly worry about keeping up a façade.

    Sometimes rumours about the identities of winners leak to the public despite their desire to keep the win secret. In those cases, staying completely anonymous is no longer an option.

    In February 2019, for example, a record €175 million EuroMillions jackpot was won by a family syndicate in the small village of Naul in Co Dublin. The press and members of the community quickly pieced together clues about the identities of the winners before they had even had chance to claim the prize. When they did manage to do so they decided not to publicise the win, despite the fact that their identities had already been leaked.

    The Irish Lottery organises initial press conferences with winners who choose to go public, preparing them for the event and the subsequent attention that they inevitably get. 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 want to avoid the limelight so prefer to stay anonymous. There are many reasons why winners may choose to go down this route, but staying out of the press is one of the common ones. After going public with a win, the initial attention inevitably dies down after a short period, but it’s not uncommon to see stories about big lottery winners featured in the media many years later. Many winners want to avoid such intrusion into their personal lives.

    Similarly, some winners remain anonymous to avoid causing tension with family and friends. By keeping the news private, winners have much more control over who they tell and when, which can give them more time to plan what they will do with their winnings without added pressure from other people.

    Avoiding publicity can also stop the winner receiving unwanted attention from members of the public, which commonly comes in the form of begging letters.

    Dolores McNamara was the winner of one of Ireland’s first and biggest ever EuroMillions jackpots when she landed €115.4 million in August 2005. She went public with the win and 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.

    If you choose to stay private with a lottery win the National Lottery will not reveal any of your personal details. The location in which the winning entry was purchased may be disclosed, along with details about the winning draw, but no information that can be used to identify you will be released.

    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, for example, admitted he only found his winning ticket because his wife had ordered him to tidy their bedroom. The winner announced that they would use the €500,000 prize to pay off their mortgage and fund their children’s education.

    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!"

    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 Lottery’s own Code of Practice for participants explicitly prohibits the company from offering inducements to talk to the press.

    Irish Lottery Winners’ Advice

    All Irish Lottery winners of €2 million or more receive advice on a wide range of topics to help them handle the shock of their big win. This includes tips on choosing advisors, accessing legal and financial help and how to make a difference with the lottery winnings. The decision whether to go public or not does not change the level of care that the National Lottery offers its winners.