Who is B.C.'s $30M 6/49 jackpot winner? It's a secret
B.C. Lottery Corporation only rarely grants anonymity to winners, and never before for a prize this big
Someone, somewhere in British Columbia has not only proved themselves to be one of the luckiest people in the province — they've also turned out to be one of the most mysterious.
In a rare move, the B.C. Lottery Corporation has granted anonymity to the winner of the $30-million April 25 Lotto 6/49 jackpot.
Just four times in the past three years has the corporation agreed not to name a contest winner.
And it's easily the biggest prize involved.
"We can't speak, of course, to the specifics of an anonymous prize claim, but we can tell you that the circumstances must be extraordinary, they need to be substantiated with evidence that's verifiable and capable of independent confirmation," said lottery corporation spokesperson Laura Piva-Babcock.
"I can't really give any specifics."
'Alarming amount of harassment'
The divulgence of a winner's name has proven to be one of the most controversial aspects of lottery wins in recent years. Lottery winners all over the world have gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal their identities.
In China, that's involved dressing up in a giant bear suit to collect prizes.
In a number of jurisdictions in the United States, winners have assigned their tickets to a trust and then sent a suited lawyer to collect the winnings.
And in New Hampshire just this March, the $560-million US winner of the Powerball jackpot won a legal fight to keep her identity secret. The woman identified in court documents as Jane Doe claimed identification could endanger her life.
The judge agreed: "The court has no doubts whatsoever that should Ms. Doe's identity be revealed, she will be subject to an alarming amount of harassment, solicitation and other unwanted communications."
Anonymity rarely granted
The B.C. Lottery Corporation insists that only individuals or groups of individuals can claim prizes. And one of the conditions of getting the money is consenting to the lottery corporation publishing the individual's name, photo, place of residence and prize.
Piva-Babcock said anyone can ask for anonymity, but they have to provide genuine proof that they need it.
She declined to provide examples of the type of situation that might qualify, but said personal safety would likely be a consideration.
In a previous instance, the Western Canada Lottery Corp. agreed to keep the identity of a Winnipeg man secret in relation to a $3-million prize.
At the time, the company said it made exemptions for prison guards and undercover police officers.
Piva-Babcock said the three other occasions of anonymity she is aware of all involved prizes of less than $100,000. She said the decision not to name is made at the highest levels of the corporation.
"First of all, our security team would be investigating all the circumstances and then provide that information to our vice-president of lottery who does make the ultimate decision in consultation with the vice-president who's responsible for security and the vice-president responsible for communications," she said.
When luck's not on your side
A massive windfall can prove bad for the health of identified winners.
In 2013, a Chicago dry cleaner was poisoned with cyanide within hours of collecting a $1-million scratch-and-win prize. And a Florida woman was convicted of murdering a man who publicly claimed a $30-million jackpot in 2006.
New Hampshire's Jane Doe cited all those horrors and more in her bid to stay private.
"There are countless stories of other lottery winners who have suffered significantly after receiving their money, many of which could have been avoided if the winners' identities had not been provided," the woman's court complaint read.
In 2015, the winners of a $50-million Lotto Max jackpot in B.C. were forced to go public after signing their ticket over to a trust. But the B.C. Lottery Corporation insisted that Friedrich and Annand Mayrhofer had to appear in person.
Piva-Babcock said the $30-million mystery millionaire picked up their prize from the corporation's Richmond offices on Wednesday.
But she couldn't say what security measures were in place to make sure they weren't photographed.
Nor could she say if they parked in the spaces traditionally reserved for winners — or just the regular parking spots, to blend in with the crowd.