For that reason, Brent Kramer, a research associate at the Fiscal Policy Institute, a nonprofit research and policy organization, and others call lotteries a “regressive tax” by offering the poor a rich fantasy. “If the promised return is by far illusory — and it is — it would be hard to argue that those purchases do not constitute a tax on those who believe the state’s hype,” Kramer wrote in a 2010 paper. In the event that someone did win the latest $700 million Powerball lottery, Bernal says it will be “the single biggest redistribution of wealth” since, well, the January 2016 Powerball.
Every jurisdiction has its own law on winners remaining anonymous. Some jurisdictions are required by law to provide the winner's name, city of residence, game won and prize amount to any third party that requests the information. Other jurisdictions allow winners to create trusts to shield their names from the public, or otherwise claim prizes anonymously. Check with your lottery to see if taking a photo of the winner is required and what its rules are on prize claims. Even if you keep your identity secret from the media and the public, you will have to be known to the lottery so officials can confirm you are eligible to play and win, as well as other legal requirements.
Lottery winners can choose to receive the money in either an annuity — annual allotments over 30 years — or to get it all at once in a single payment for a smaller amount. For example, the lump sum on the $502 million jackpot would be $301 million, according to lottery site USAMega.com. If a single winner takes the single payment, the federal tax withholding would be over $75 million. Then, there are state taxes too.