The presentation the winning $241-million Powerball ticket has raised a new legal question.
The Quaker Oats workers who won the big prize called Iowa Lottery headquarters they day before they picked up their prize money in Des Moines and requested that their names not be made public.
Iowa Lottery spokesperson, Mary Neubauer, says they consulted the Attorney General, and that led to the first ever delay of releasing the names.
“We informed them that we thought the winners’ information can and should be public information, but they said that they want to seek an injunction to keep that information private,” according to Neubauer.
“We sought the advice of the Attorney General’s office and were informed that chapter 22.8, which is the open records law does in fact allow people to seek an injunction if they have information that otherwise would be public, but they want to keep private.” Neubauer says the Iowa Lottery has given the winners 10 days to seek the injunction.
Neubauer says they have had requests in the past to keep the names of winners private, but have always released that information.
“We have never had a group go to court in the fashion that this one did, granted these are Iowa’s biggest lottery winners ever. So, from that perspective I do understand the group’s concerns. I think in this age of social media, anybody understands,” Neubauer says.
Iowa Lottery C.E.O. Terry Rich says they will follow whatever the law says in regards to releasing the information and would not be opposed if there were legislative action to change the law. Joe Day is the lawyer for the winning group — know as the “Shipping 20” after the department where they work.
Day believes they have a good chance of getting the court to agree to keep their names private. “When you go and you put together money like they did, the minute you make a contribution there is legally created or formed a constructive trust. The person who bought that bought the ticket is the trustee, the people that contributed are the beneficiaries,” Days says.
He says they had it converted to a legal trust under a court order so they could get a federal I-D number. “So it has been a trust since day one.” Day says the Lottery cannot legally reveal the names of the beneficiaries of the trust and that is his argument in court.
Eighteen members of the group showed up to turn over the winning ticket Wednesday and were photographed and spoke about the experiences. Day was asked why they now want to keep their names secret.
“Why not, they decided they wanted to do it,” Day says. He was asked by a reporter if he advised them to seek the injunction. “No it was their request. I’m their lawyer, I followed their request,” Day replied.
Day says the group has every right to seek to keep their names private. “They didn’t want their last names know, that’s their choice. This is still a free country. For awhile anyway,” Day said.
This issue arises following a case where a $14-million Hot Lotto jackpot was claimed by a New York lawyer on December 29th just hours before the ticket was to expire. The lawyer said he represented a trust, but then withdrew his claim to the ticket in January after the Iowa Lottery gave him a deadline to reveal the name of the person who purchased the ticket.