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Local News

January 16, 2014

Lottery privacy bill an early loser

Greenwood senator pledges to refile next year.

(Continued)

The Hoosier Lottery posts names and photos of big winners online, along with personal stories of how winners may spend their fortunes. Big winners are featured at lottery press conferences, where reporters can ask questions and take photos.

Under Waltz’s bill, the state lottery commission would have been forbidden from identifying or publicizing a winner without written consent. It would also have prohibited the commission from paying the winner to publicize their name or image.

Don McNay, a Kentucky-based financial adviser who works with people who come into sudden money, says Waltz’s proposal is good idea.

“People who win a lot of money in the lottery need to stay quiet, get their lives organized and get the help they need to make wise financial decisions,” said McNay.

Plenty don’t. The vast majority of big-money winners wind up broke within five years, said McNay, who authored the e-book, “Life Lessons from the Lottery.”

“The money just overwhelms them,” he said. “It just causes them to lose their sense of values.”

And that makes them vulnerable.

McNay cites the story of Jack Whittaker, a West Virginia businessman who won a $315 million Powerball jackpot a decade ago. When Whittaker showed up at a strip club, someone drugged his drink and took nearly $600,000 in cash from his car.

“He might not have been out of the $600,000 had nobody known who he was,” said McNay.

He also cites Florida lottery winner Abraham Shakespeare, who ended up dead after winning a $30 million jackpot. His body was found under a concrete slab at the home of his financial planner’s boyfriend. She’d befriended him after seeing him appear at a lottery press conference.

“He’s the poster child for keeping lottery winners’ names anonymous,” McNay said.

In January, Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association, which oversees Powerball and Mega-Millions, told an Associated Press reporter that disclosure laws ensure a transparent process.

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