Publicity is not usually a subject that most people think about when they first discover that they have won a large lottery prize, but the question of whether or not a jackpot winner wants publicity is one that is asked very quickly by lottery organisers.
There are two sides to opting for publicity. On the positive side, it can give the lottery jackpot winner fifteen minutes of fame like nothing else. Within days of “coming out”, jackpot winners will have been written about in newspapers, magazine and on the web. They will have been interviewed by radio and television show hosts. They may even be treated to a more memorable cheque presentation ceremony that fits in with their personal interests and provides a handy photo opportunity for the media at the same time. For players who have long dreamed of this kind of attention, opting for publicity can make their dreams become a reality extremely quickly.
Invasion of Privacy
If this were all that publicity brought, few people would have a problem with it. But, as we said a few moments ago, there are two sides to opting for publicity. The negative side is a major and sometimes permanent invasion of privacy. When the initially celebratory stories have gone cold, some hack journalists start looking for something more seedy to write about past winners. Do they pay their bills on time? are they bad neighbours? Do they have anything they want to hide? Such questions can quickly get on the nerves of even the most innocent and good-natured winner.
And then there are the problems that the money itself brings when it is publicised. Friends start wondering if they are going to enjoy a slice of the jackpot pie. Enemies become friends in order to try and extort some of the wealth for themselves. And begging letters start coming through the post. For the jackpot winners, it can soon feel as if the world and his wife want their money. And they often do.
Anyone who thinks things through like this might conclude that the best way forward is to forgo the publicity altogether. But what does opting for “no publicity” really mean? Does it actually guarantee that the jackpot winner will be able to side-step all of the negative points we have just discussed?
The short answer is no, it doesn’t. Opting out of publicity effectively prevents the lottery organisers from releasing personal information about the winner to the outside world, but should news of the win leak out from any other source, the media doesn’t have to honour the spirit of the “opt out” and can still follow up any leads they are given, tracking the winners down using good old investigative journalism.
And news of a lottery win is easily leaked. Consider the problem of how a winner will be able to explain the brand new sports car or country mansion they have been able to buy. Will people really believe that your long-lost Aunt Gertrude left you a fortune when she passed away, considering that you’ve never mentioned having an aunt? Or that you managed to score 24 points on the football pools despite the fact that you’ve openly claimed to hate the game after a few drinks?
Leaking the News
Even if you could deceive the general public with such “white lies”, are you really committed to lying to your closest friends and family members? If you aren’t then news of your jackpot win could leak via those channels. This is a real-life situation at the moment in York, where the press are writing about a couple in Holgate who reputedly scooped £2.47 million when winning the Wednesday 3 October Lotto draw. Camelot won’t confirm this, because the winners of that particular draw opted out of publicity, but apparently a few friends of the couple just couldn’t keep the news to themselves and journalists are swarming after just a few days! When this kind of thing happens, jackpot winners eventually try to end the incessant speculation by coming out of the closet and reluctantly putting up with the publicity they sought to avoid in the first place.
The only sure-fire way to avoid publicity is to opt out when the lottery organisers give you the chance to do so, avoid telling another soul about the win, and spend your money modestly. Keeping a low profile and the paparazzi off your back is a lot more difficult than it sounds. But hey, get used to it…that’s what the millionaire lifestyle is all about!