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can a convicted felon win the lottery

Almost anyone can win the Powerball jackpot — except for these 2 million Americans

This image was removed due to legal reasons.

Pretty much everyone in the United States is eligible to win Wednesday’s record $1.4 billion Powerball jackpot —except for a not-so-fortunate group of 2.2 million people.

The list of people eligible to win the Powerball even includes Americans abroad, who can buy tickets online, and non-U.S. citizens in the states with dreams of striking it rich. Tourists visiting the U.S. can buy a Powerball ticket and claim the prize. Just about any adult who can get themselves online or to an authorized retailer is eligible.

But for one big group — the estimated 2.2 million adults behind bars in the U.S. — winning the Powerball isn’t really an option.

Most states strictly forbid people in prison from gambling, including participating in state-approved lottery contests . Others just make it impossible by not permitting internet access or prohibiting lottery tickets from being mailed.

Theoretically, an adult in prison could phone a friend and ask them to both front the money for the ticket and accept the winnings on their behalf. But that’s also illegal in states with laws that prohibit people in prison from gambling.

There is one extraordinary story of a U.K. man who happened to buy a winning lottery ticket while serving time for attempted rape. In 2004 Iorworth Hoare was on a permitted weekend outing when he won the winning ticket for a £7 million ($10 million USD) jackpot. Hoare, who had previous convictions for rape, two other attempted rapes, and three indecent assaults, now lives in a castle and is known for his art collection. One victim who heard about his record lottery win sued Hoare and settled for an undisclosed sum of money.

But in the U.S., it might be the state suing the lottery winner. Experts say in the off chance a current or former prisoner in the U.S. manages to win the Powerball, the state could take a chunk of it away.

As counties and states struggle to pay for their prisons, they have started charging fees for everything from bookings to room and board. More than half the nation’s state prisons have instituted “pay-to-stay” fees, charging inmates for their own incarceration.

An estimated 10 million people owe more than $50 billion in debt resulting from their involvement in the criminal justice system, according to a study published by the The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law.

Criminal justice advocates say the debt can increase recidivism and that prisoners who have already served their time should not be doubly punished with added fees.

If a former prisoner wins the jackpot, chances are the state or a victim could come after them.

In December 2014 Timothy Poole of Mount Dora, Florida, a registered sex offender, won nearly $3 million on a scratch-off lottery ticket. Two unidentified brothers who say they were sexually assaulted by Poole asked the state court to temporarily freeze his earnings ahead of their trial, but a judge denied their request.

After the judge’s ruling Florida State Senator Darren Soto (D-Orlando) said he would introduce legislation that would allow judges to freeze assets of convicted sex offenders who win the lottery.

Another registered sex offender in Florida was the sole winner of the state’s $14 million lottery drawing in 2007. The Florida Lottery commision did not respond to request asking if the state has considered banning certain groups from being eligible to win the lottery.

Pretty much everyone in the United States is eligible to win Wednesday's record $1.4 billion Powerball jackpot—except for a not-so-fortunate group of 2.2 million people.

She Won The $560 Million Powerball — And Immediately Regretted This

(Photo by Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

When this New Hampshire woman won the $560 million Powerball jackpot in January, she did what most people would do. She signed the back of her ticket.

But it almost cost her more than she bargained for.

Here’s what you need to know and what you should do if you’re fortunate enough to follow in her footsteps and win the lottery.

Step #1: Remain anonymous

If you win the lottery, your best bet is to remain anonymous.

With your newfound fortune, the last thing you want is to draw attention to your newfound fortune. Jane Doe (the Powerball winner whose name has not been disclosed) realized after she signed her winning lottery ticket that she wished to remain anonymous.

Typically, the choice to remain anonymous after you win the lottery may not be yours.

The rules regarding anonymity vary by state, with some states requiring all lottery winners to disclose their identity. Why?

Some lottery officials say they want transparency and to ensure that the winner is not related to a lottery official. Therefore, lottery commissions strive for transparency, and typically want winners to disclose their name, city and prize amount.

Remaining anonymous when you win the lottery can only be done in six U.S. states: Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina. The remaining states where Powerball is sold, including Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, require that winners publicly disclose their identity.

In New Hampshire, a lottery winner’s name, town and prize amount are publicly disclosed as part of the state’s “Right To Know” law.

However, Doe asked a state judge to grant her anonymity even though she signed her name on the back of the ticket and lives in a state that does not permit anonymity for lottery winners.

On Monday, Judge Charles Temple granted her request – to the objection of New Hampshire lottery officials who argued that revealing her identity increases transparency and trust in the lottery system in accordance with state rules. The judge ruled that revealing her name would constitute an invasion of privacy since lottery winners can face – according to Temple’s order – “repeated solicitation, harassment, and even violence.” The judge ruled, however, the winner had to reveal her town (Merrimack).

Step #2: Sign the winning lottery ticket

So, if you win the lottery and live in a state that does not guarantee anonymity, should you still sign the back of the ticket?

It may sound outdated, but you should always sign the back of a winning lottery ticket.

A lottery ticket is considered a bearer instrument, which means that whoever signs the ticket can claim the lottery winnings.

Therefore, if you lose an unsigned winning ticket, the person who find it legally can claim the prize.

The question then is what name do you sign on the back of the ticket – particularly if you want to remain anonymous.

You can accept a lottery prize through legal structures such as a blind trust that can protect your identity. In this case, the winner created the Good Karma Family 2018 Nominee Trust. Her lawyer, William Shaheen, accepted the lump sum prize of $352 million (approximately $264 million after taxes) on her behalf.

What’s the first thing she did with her new fortune? She donated almost $250,000 to charity – and has plans to donate up to $50 million. Way to make lemonade.

If you win the lottery, make sure to do this one thing. ]]>