ATLANTA - Anyone who wins the historic $1.6 billion Mega Millions jackpot can use a new Georgia law to keep people from asking for a piece of the money.
The law saying the winner does not have to give up their name has been on the books in Georgia for only six months.
“I love that law because you have people coming out of the woodwork when you win. Sometime you don't want everybody to know you won,” a Mega Millions player told Channel 2 Action News.
On Friday, lottery officials announced the jackpot had jumped to $1 billion.
Simply by signing a piece of paper, any winner of $250,000 or more may opt for anonymity. The lottery won't identify the winners, even though the open records law.
"It was done because constituents were worried that they could win that money and be like people in other states, be victims of crime of flim-flam, etcetera," Sen. Steve Henson said.
Since May 7, 74 people have won more than $250,000 in Georgia, and every single one of them has signed a paper to remain anonymous.
Henson said the law isn't designed just to maintain a winner's privacy. It's a public safety issue.
Sadly, it comes too late for some Georgia lottery winners who could have used it for their own protection.
Dorris Murray, a $5 million winner, was stabbed to death by an ex-boyfriend, and Craigory Busch, another lottery winner, was killed in a home invasion. Investigators said he was targeted because of his new fortune.
"There have been people all over the country who've been victimized by crime," Henson said.
Beyond the personal safety issues, Henson said winners deserve not to be pestered by hangers-on eager to suck a jackpot dry.
"People spend money and think that it never finishes, but it does," Henson said.
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