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Can lottery winners remain anonymous?

A woman holds a bunch of Canadian money. Stock photo by Getty Images

Every provincial lottery corporation in Canada requires winners to participate in a publicity photo shoot showing their face, their name and their municipality.

It’s done largely for transparency reasons. It proves that people are actually winning the prizes, and that the winners aren’t corporation employees or merchants who sell the tickets.

Typically, they say a winner must participate in the publicity campaign in order to claim the prize. Purchasing a lottery ticket is considered an agreement to the corporation’s terms and conditions.

The publicity comes with a price, though. Once a winner’s identity makes the news, it doesn’t take long for scammers, fairweather friends, and other handout-seekers to come calling.

Or worse. It’s not uncommon for death threats to come rolling in as well. In 2007, Montreal police thwarted a plot to kill a couple that won $27 million, and several U.S. winners were murdered soon after their victories.

Given those risks, lotto corporations make the occasional exception to the mandatory publicity. In 2008, the Western Canada Lottery Corp., allowed a Winnipeg winner to remain anonymous citing security concerns.

The WCLC later said it would protect identities if winners could show there was a “legitimate threat against them,” such as prison guards or undercover police officers.

Read more:

Claiming a prize WCLC

Winner FAQ OLG