The real issue with lotteries isn't winners' privacy; it's the government's shameful marketing

A court in New Hampshire decided this week that the winner of a $560-million Powerball jackpot had a right to her privacy, so her name won’t be published. Lottery companies typically argue that they want to share the names of the winners so they can demonstrate transparency and fairness, but they also have another motive.

Showing off a lucky winner to the public helps them to market the lottery and sell more tickets. These government agencies promote the idea that winning the lottery is a dream come true, but often it’s a nightmare. Winners are usually inundated with requests for help from acquaintances and strangers who are down on their luck, and are targeted by con artists. For that reason, it’s not inappropriate for lottery winners to have the right to choose privacy.

But the real question is not whether lottery winners should be forced to go public, but why the government is in the business of promoting the idea that having half a billion dollars dropped in your lap is the secret to happiness. It’s shameful marketing and we’re all paying for it.

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