Nothing to hide here! UK nudist lottery winners celebrate on the beach. Photo:AP
Jacque looked at his wife and grinned. Around them in the small room at the lottery headquarters, officials bustled with the giant check they would present to the winners in the auditorium.
There was a lot of smiling and congratulating. Then one man put his head round the door and said, "we're ready."
An official nodded to the couple, and Jacque slipped the mask over his face, as did his wife. They broke out in laughter when they looked at each other.
But the masked party had a more serious theme.
It meant - as they stepped out into the glare of publicity from their half-billion dollar lottery win - that they were taking the first steps to living their new life in undisturbed peace.
More lotteries these days are requiring winners to come forward publicly. They need the prize winners to be publicly identified to show that the draw was not a scam, and to protect the integrity of the games. Fair enough.
Some laws in some US states - such as Kansas - don't require the winners to be publicly identified. They are not even required to give the winner's gender.
A media scrum is no fun for lottery winners. Photo: Guardian
But for others, keeping their privacy is important so they won't get besieged with begging letters and phone calls, or possible threats.
Here's some ways you can escape or minimize your publicity:
1. Have your ticket claimed by a representative. Even though big jackpot winners in many states and countries are compelled to give their names and hometowns, the publicity effect can be reduced by using a stand-in for the photo. There's less chance of being recognized in public.
2. Negotiate terms with lottery officials. For example, if there is good reason why you don't want publicity, they may not require you to to give a news conference. But you need to have a good reason - remember it's important to them to have your name and face out there.
3. Extreme step - wear a mask when you show up for a publicity photo. Though this is not commonly done in the USA, it is often seen in Europe and Asian countries like China and Singapore.
4. Cancel all phone accounts. Get new numbers, or change your phone number to an unlisted one. Remember, you can now afford to throw your new iPhone away and buy another!
5. Leave home and rent or buy a home in another city under another name. This MAY work, but remember media are skilled at getting information and will track you down - particularly if it is a large jackpot win.
6. Don't give interviews to the media. Most interviewers don't play by your rules, and will skillfully hound you for information you may not want to reveal.
7. Simply ignore begging letters. You don't have to open them! Have them disposed of by a commercial document destruction center.
Winning a large jackpot is a life-changing event. Don't take it lightly. Get all the legal and financial help you can.
Check out your game's legal requirement by looking it up at /games
$1 MILLION! After taking tickets of the same series for some time,... I decided to extend out to a much larger number of entries. This was what Ken had been saying so I followed instructions. .. but alas I let that fateful night go by when I did not buy and the prize pool meant that $1M would have been won as my first line of numbers came up. Lester R.