Powerball winner wants to give up to $50 million to charity

Powerball lottery ticket (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
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A New Hampshire woman who won a Powerball jackpot worth nearly $560 million plans to give as much as $50 million to charity as a legal fight to keep her identity private proceeds, her lawyers said Wednesday.

The New Hampshire Lottery Commission handed over $264 million — the amount left after taxes were deducted — to the woman's lawyers. They said she would give $150,000 to Girls Inc. and $33,000 apiece to three chapters of End 68 Hours of Hunger in the state. It is the first of what her lawyers said would be donations over the years of between $25 million to $50 million during her lifetime.

"My client doesn't want any accolades. She doesn't want any credit. She just wants to do good things," said William Shaheen, one of the woman's lawyers and the trustee for her Good Karma Family Trust of 2018.

"She knows there are many charities that do good work and need money but we want to start with these two ... because she believes that the children are our future," he said. "If we raise good children, we will have a good country."

The unidentified woman signed her ticket after the Jan. 6 drawing, but later learned from a lawyer that she could have shielded her identity by writing the name of a trust. They said she was upset after learning she was giving up her anonymity by signing the ticket — something the lottery commission acknowledged isn't spelled out on the ticket but is detailed on its website.

A judge is considering her lawyer's request that her privacy interests outweigh what the state says is the public's right to know who won the money in the nation's eighth-largest lottery jackpot. The state says the law was clear on the requirement to release her name and failing to publicize her identity could erode trust in the lottery.

Despite the court case, New Hampshire Lottery Executive Director Charlie McIntyre said the lottery commission didn't want to stand between the woman and her money.

"Our hope was just to comply with the law while making sure that the winner got what they deserved," McIntyre said.

Shaheen said her lawyers plan to appeal the ruling if a judge orders the release of the woman's name and address.

Little is known about the woman, and her lawyers have only said she is from southern New Hampshire and doesn't want the attention that often comes with winning a big jackpot. Shaheen said she hasn't yet quit her job and plans to remain where she lives.

The woman comes from a family of givers "and this is just part of a continuation of how she was raised," Shaheen said. She hasn't been in a position to give to charities in the past, he said.

Officials from the two charities appeared to be stunned by the donations that they said dwarfed anything they had received before. The money will allow them to greatly expand their services, including more programs for girls and meals for children.

"I've been here 22 years and never had a day like this," said Cathy Duffy Cullity, CEO of Girls Inc. "I wake up in the morning now and say I don't have to worry anymore. It goes so far."