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How Do Multiple Winners Claim a Lottery Ticket?

Staying Anonymous After Winning the Lottery

Playing the lottery is a game of chance, but someone has to win. Oftentimes, especially when jackpots swell to gargantuan amounts, several friends, family members or co-workers pool their money and purchase tickets as a group. After the celebration ends, the real work of figuring out how to split the prize begins.

State Rules

Each state runs its own lottery, and the rules vary according to that state. This is true even for multiple-state games such as Powerball and MegaMillions. You must claim the winnings within the state where the ticket was purchased. The majority of state lottery websites contain a list of Frequently Asked Questions or FAQ’s with information on multiple winners. For example, North Carolina and New York allow multiple winners to claim the prize, while the state of Washington will only accept one claimant.

Legal Entity

In states that allow just one winner, a group can form a legal entity to handle the claims process. This may be a corporation, a limited liability company, a partnership or a trust. An attorney can help the group determine the best approach based on the rules of that state’s lottery.

If you are part of a group that buys lottery tickets together on a regular basis, you may want to form a legal entity at the onset. This can protect all members of the group should there ever be a win. Drawing up a contract with specific guidelines about playing and dividing winnings can prevent complications like those encountered by some co-workers in New Jersey. Though they pooled money and bought tickets as a group for years, one member claimed his winning ticket was purchased separately. Without a written contract, the case became one player’s word against the others.

Taxes

Lottery winnings are a welcome windfall, but they come with sizable tax obligations. There is a danger in one person claiming the prize on behalf of a group because that group member incurs the entire tax liability. When the monies are distributed to fellow winners, the department of revenue can deem these taxable gifts resulting in additional tax burdens to each winner. Consult a tax attorney, accountant or financial adviser prior to accepting any winnings to get advice on the best way to minimize tax payouts.

Getting the Money

If you believe your group has the winning numbers, call the state lottery office for specific instructions, including scheduling a time to appear in person. Some states require any and all winners to attend a public awards ceremony. Only six states allow lottery winners to remain anonymous — Kansas, Delaware, Michigan, North Dakota and Ohio. In others, an Affidavit of Multiple Ownership must be completed if all of the winners can’t collect in person.

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Playing the lottery is a game of chance, but someone has to win. Oftentimes, especially when jackpots swell to gargantuan amounts, several friends, family members or co-workers pool their money and purchase tickets as a group. After the celebration ends, the real work of figuring out how to split the prize begins.

Man splits $22 million jackpot win with friend, keeping nearly 30-year-old promise

Powerball winner splits jackpot with friend per decades-old promise

Wisconsin friends Thomas Cook and Joseph Feeney shook hands in 1992 and promised that if one of them ever won the Powerball jackpot, he would split the lottery winnings with the other.

Cook, of Elk Mound, kept that 28-year-old agreement when he purchased the winning ticket for a $22 million jackpot at a gas station in Menomonie in June.

“It was quite an experience. When I read the first two or three numbers, I kind of froze,” he said in an interview Thursday with the Wisconsin Lottery.

Cook, who said he was eating breakfast at the time, passed the ticket over to his wife. “She froze,” he said.

After realizing he won, Cook called his friend.

Feeney, of Menomonie, said he thought Cook was joking. The two men would buy lottery tickets every week but never thought they would actually win, he explained.

“That happened many years ago,” Cook said of their promise. “A handshake’s a handshake, man.”

The friends chose the cash option of about $16.7 million, according to a Wisconsin Lottery press release. Cook and Feeney will each take home roughly $5.7 million after federal and state taxes.

Cook, who has grandchildren and great-grandchildren, retired from his job after winning, the press release stated. Feeney had already retired from the fire department.

Neither has extravagant plans for the money but said they want to spend more time with their families and to do some traveling.

“We can pursue what we feel comfortable with,” Cook said in the interview. “I can’t think of a better way to retire.”

It is the first Powerball jackpot win in the state since March 2019 when a 24-year-old man won a record-setting $768.4 million jackpot, according to the press release. It’s the state’s 18th Powerball jackpot win since Wisconsin debuted the game in 1992. The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are 1 in about 292 million.

The state’s lottery director congratulated the friends on their big win.

“The power of friendship and a handshake has paid off. I’m thrilled for them — their lucky day has arrived!” Cindy Polzin said in a statement.

The Menomonie gas station was awarded $100,000 for selling Cook the ticket.

Minyvonne Burke is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.

Wisconsin friends Thomas Cook and Joseph Feeney shook hands in 1992 and promised that if one of them ever won the Powerball jackpot, they would split the lottery winnings with each other. ]]>