To protect her identify, a Jamaican lottery winner just put on a happy face — a big, yellow, emoji face that covered her face as she picked up her prize.
With a mess of tendrils framing the mask, the woman identified only as N Gray arrived to collect the $180 million in Jamaican dollars she won as part of the May 11 Super Lotto jackpot drawing. She posed for the cameras holding a giant cardboard check and sporting her smiling and winking mask.
Gray’s winning lottery numbers were announced on May 12, when she found out she had won $180 million JM of the $301.5 million JM jackpot. Photos show her picking up her giant novelty check and giving a thumbs up to the camera.
Several lotteries operate with rules that require winners to publicly come forward, at least in some capacity. Rules vary in different countries and states — sometimes, it is possible to claim anonymously, but in other places a winner’s name must be published. However, many legal experts advise that when possible, lottery winners should keep their identities a secret, and even set up a trust to claim it.
“I am elated, because I was drowning in debt,” she told The Gleaner. “I started buying Super Lotto in January… Now [that] I’ve won, I want to clear my debt, invest and I want to do some traveling. I would like to construct a community center for the youths in my community, so they can engage in something productive; somewhere where they can do information technology” the Jamaican lottery winner told newsmen.
Lottery winners in the Caribbean country often wear disguises when collecting their winnings due to high crime and the fear of being hounded for money from friends and family. Winning a large lump sum of money can make winners a target for crime, meanwhile there are many well-known cases of winner blowing through their winnings quickly, particularly because people beg them for cash and donations.
According to Business Insider, Sharon Tirabassi — who won more than $10 million CAN in Ontario in 2004 — was left with nothing after spending her money on, among other things, handouts and loans to friends and family.
Billy Bob Harrell Jr. won $31 million in Texas in 1997, but it too ran out. Though he spent much of it himself, he also admitted that he couldn’t say no when people asked for handouts.
Here are more photos below;