Saturday, September 8, 2012

Trust keeps $24 million jackpot winner anonymous

Trust keeps $24 million jackpot winner anonymous
Friday, September 7, 2012 | Updated: Friday, September 7, 2012 9:15pm

If you win the lottery and want to keep it a secret, you've got to trust.

In other words, let someone else face the publicity.

We'll probably never know who bought the $24 million Lotto Texas jackpot ticket July 28 at a southwest Houston Kroger store because the winner claimed the prize through the MDDSS Revocable Trust.

Manfred Sternberg, a trustee for the Houston-based trust, represented the winner Wednesday at the ceremonial check presentation.

Under Texas law, a lottery winner cannot remain anonymous, but the winner doesn't have to be an individual. It can be a trust, Texas Lottery Commission spokeswoman Kelly Cripe said.

Information was not immediately available on how common it is for winners to form trusts before claiming their prizes, Cripe said.

Another Houston lotto winner used the same tactic in May 2010 when he collected his lump-sum payout of $48.8 million through the MAED Trust after a delay caused by a photocopier snafu that blackened the front of the ticket.

The man, who has yet to go public, purchased a winning ticket worth $76 million the previous October at the H-E-B Pantry in Alvin.

The MDDSS Revocable Trust also selected the immediate payout option rather than 25 annual payments, making the prize worth about $18.9 million before taxes, according to the commission.

Remaining anonymous can be a smart move for people who suddenly become very rich, a financial expert said.

Susan Bradley, a Florida certified financial planner who started the Sudden Money Institute, said it's a good thing Texas allows winners to keep quiet about striking it rich.

"Some states require a photo op," Bradley said Friday from her Florida office. "It's hard enough to adapt to having this kind of money - the responsibilities, the choices. It's very stressful. If there's less publicity, it makes it a little easier."

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