A Michigan Powerball winner is working to advocate for lottery winners to have the option to remain anonymous. Cristy Davis’ identity was used without her consent upon winning a $70 million Powerball jackpot, so she’s fighting to ensure it doesn’t happen to others.
According to Michigan state law, individuals who win over $10,000 in local and in-state lottery games can claim their winnings without disclosing their names. However, they cannot opt for anonymity if they succeed in multi-state games such as Mega Millions, Powerball, and Lucky for Life.
“We tried to get a lawyer to see if I can [claim] anonymously, and they said no,” Davis shared with the Lottery Post. “That was my big thing — I didn’t want to go on TV. I know so many [who’ve] been through so much in life, and it was either that or no money.”
Davis, a resident of Waterford, Michigan, discovered her identity was being used without her consent in local Facebook groups.
“I’ve seen in [the] ‘Waterford Matters’ Facebook group a post: ‘This is Cristy Davis, and I’m giving away blah blah blah blah blah… Send me this info to this phone number.’ Comments on [the post] are like, ‘They cleaned my bank account out.’ Why would you give somebody your bank account information?” she related. “And then I have friends on there [replying], ‘That’s not her,’ saying I’m not on social media, and I changed my name.”
Davis contends that it is a prime illustration of why lottery victors should not be mandated to disclose their names. Keeping the identities of large prize winners undisclosed safeguards not only the winners but also others who may become targets of fraudsters employing deceitful messages to exploit vulnerable individuals, especially the elderly.
“The Lottery people need to know when they expose your name, this is the stuff that happens,” she contended. “The Lottery even emailed me, ‘Oh, we heard you’re out here scamming people.’ I said, ‘You know, that’s what happens when you expose people’s names.'”
Davis believes that winning the lottery may have unintended consequences, such as leaving a long-time home, changing a name or phone number, and altering a way of life.
“They definitely should pass the law that allows [lottery winners] to be anonymous because [the Lottery doesn’t] realize what they do to people,” Davis shared. “[Winning the lottery] is life-changing already. A lot of people do move away, but some people don’t. I didn’t. That’s probably why I felt the way I did the whole time. It’s just too good to be real because of everything that comes after.”
More: Man who won $5M from Colorado Lottery couldn’t wait to buy watermelon and flowers for his wife
Davis’ 2020 lottery win
Davis won $70 million in the Powerball by matching all numbers plus Powerball. She opted for a one-time lump sum payment of around $36 million after taxes.
She purchased her tickets at the Huron Plaza Liquor store on West Huron Street in Pontiac.
After buying her lottery tickets, a friend told her that the winning Powerball ticket was purchased at the same location where she had bought hers. She was at her workplace when she took out her ticket to check it, and she couldn’t believe what she saw.
“My friend Erica’s next to me, and she’s like, ‘No,'” Davis recalled. “I yelled through the whole shop, and everybody came running. It was literally like a three-second excitement, and then it was like, this was too good to be true. It still hasn’t clicked in my brain that it’s real.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: $70M Powerball winner says winners should remain anonymous. Here’s why.