I recently had the good fortune to represent a million dollar lottery winner.
The winner chose to remain anonymous so I had to do some investigative work with the Ohio Lottery Commission to make that happen. Once the winner confirmed the winning numbers the ticket was signed, and dated by the winner on the back of the ticket, and stored for safe keeping. The procedure from there was a little cumbersome. I needed to create two separate trusts. One trust was to appoint me, as the trustee on behalf of the winner, to contact the Lottery Commission and accept the Lottery winnings. The secondary trust was set up for me as trustee of the first trust, to transfer the proceeds to the second trust with the winner as the beneficiary. This enabled me to present the ticket, accept the proceeds, and transfer it to the winner with no public record or disclosure.
In addition to coordinating these trusts with the Lottery Commission, we also needed to prepare confidential disclosures of the winner and relevant tax information. The Lottery Commission never lets the money out the door without the appropriate tax information. In addition to tax information, a search is done by the Lottery Commission to determine if the winner is delinquent in any child or spousal support proceedings.
Once all that was completed I was required to personally present all the paperwork, and the winning ticket, to the Lottery Commission office in Cleveland. To preserve the anonymity, my winner did not go to Cleveland with me. In order to gain access to the Lottery Commission personal identification needs to be shown, you need to sign the register, and all transactions are video recorded – the exact opposite of anonymous.
Once in the office I presented them with the paperwork and the winning ticket. The next cloak and dagger event came into play because the winner had signed the ticket. When I presented the ticket they first verified the authenticity of the ticket. Then I was handed a bottle of white out. I was instructed to completely white out the winner’s signature. I then was required to endorse the ticket with my signature as Trustee. Lastly, I then had to execute an affidavit that I was the one who actually blotted out the signature with white out. Finally I was done and could leave – only without the money.
After all that secrecy and cloak and dagger stuff I was told the check would be mailed in about two weeks. I asked if it would be sent FedEx, USPS Express Mail or other some other trackable method. To my surprise the answer was “No, we just send it regular US mail.” All that complicated procedure, secrecy, and in person meeting requiring 450 miles round trip drive – seemed sort of anticlimactic.
Regardless, it was a different experience in my law career and I hope to do it again someday. You learn something new every day.