Should Wisconsin lottery winners be required to come forward?

Lawmakers propose Lottery Privacy Act
Should Wisconsin lottery winners be required to come forward?
CNN video
24-year-old wins $768.4M jackpot in Wisconsin Lottery

The same day a West Allis man came forward to claim Wisconsin’s largest jackpot ever, state lawmakers are proposing new legislation that would not have required him to do so.

Twenty-four year-old Manuel Franco was at a loss for words at the beginning of a news conference Tuesday as he explained some of what he plans to use the money for.

Franco said he had a “lucky feeling” as he walked into the Speedway gas station in New Berlin and bought $10 worth of individual Powerball tickets. He has played the Powerball ever since he was 18.

“It was amazing,” Franco said. “My heart starting racing, blood pumping. My blood felt warm. I screamed for about five or 10 minutes.”

“I’m thinking, oh my god. No way,” says Powerball winner Manuel Franco as he looked at the winning ticket. #news3now

— Rose Schmidt (@RoseSchmidtTV) April 23, 2019

He went to work the next day not realizing he had won but quit his job a few days later. He hired financial advisers and said he does want to “help out the world” with his winnings.

The jackpot, the third largest in U.S. history, was $768.4 million but Franco said he was advised to take the cash lump sum option of about $477 million. After taxes, he will take home $326 million.

“When I won, I wasn’t ready for it. I wasn’t ready for it at all,” Franco explained. “I got that paranoia that you get where you think the whole world’s after you. Now, I found out that realistically if you don’t tell anybody, nobody knows.”

The winning Powerball ticket was sold in New Berlin, Wisconsin, on March 27.

The estimated prize was $768.4 million, the third largest jackpot in the country’s history. #news3now

— Rose Schmidt (@RoseSchmidtTV) April 23, 2019

Less than an hour after the news conference, Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Rep. Gary Tauchen introduced the Lottery Privacy Act. The bill would prohibit the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, lottery administrators and the retailer who sold the ticket from disclosing the winner’s name, address or Social Security number if they request anonymity.

Currently, Wisconsin state law requires lottery winners to come forward.

Tauchen said Franco’s life will “be turned upside down” and his privacy has been invaded.

“It would be nice if he could be able to have a year to adjust to the new lifestyle that he’s gained, and not have people breathing down his neck knowing that he’s a very wealthy man and that they might have some way to take advantage of him,” Tauchen said.

The Republican from Bonduel said it wasn’t a coincidence he and Vos chose Tuesday to introduce the bill, which they’ve been working on for several years.

“It just depends on the timing a lot of times whether you’re able to pass a piece of legislation,” Tauchen said. “The time is right now.”

In a handful of states, winners can stay anonymous completely. In some other states, winners can form a trust and have someone else, such as a lawyer, be the face of the trust.

Tauchen’s lawyer was present at the news conference Tuesday and advised him which questions not to answer. He chose not to disclose personal details, such as where he worked, what he did and whether he would continue to live in Wisconsin.

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