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$425-million Powerball jackpot winner has yet to come forward

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Now the waiting game begins.

Someone, somewhere, purchased a Powerball ticket in Milpitas, Calif., that will pay out around $425.3 million.

That person has up to a year to claim the prize, but California Lottery spokesman Alex Traverso said usually winners of a prize this large will claim their money within a week.

He had a message Thursday for the winner:

“Set your mind at ease, sign the back of the ticket, go to our East Bay office,” Traverso said. “Let us handle all the details of your press conference.”

California Lottery jackpot winners are not required to hold a news conference, he said, “but it will make this person’s life easier if they handle all this media at once.”

Only six states allow winners to be anonymous. Others offer exceptions for circumstances from domestic issues to protecting peace officers.

In California, winners must be identified. Lottery officials previously told a Times Opinion writer that even when winners understand their names are public record, they ask that they not be publicized. The requests are denied and the names are put on a news release.

Winners are sometimes pursued by organizations seeking donations, “relatives” begging for money or are simply swindled out of their money by greedy financial advisors, experts told The Times

In an extreme example, Florida’s Abraham Shakespeare won $17 million, and was conned and eventually killed for what remained of his winnings.

In a 2012 Opinion piece, Andrew Stoltmann, a Chicago securities attorney, told The Times, “a huge conflict of interest” exists between “the people who run the lottery and the people who win the lottery.”

"The single best commercial the lottery has is that new winner holding up a ginormous multimillion-dollar check. It’s great. It’s everybody’s dream,” said Stoltmann, who has represented five winners who eventually became victims of their lucky breaks. “Once that person is exposed, he or she is the most heavily stalked person, by legitimate and illegitimate financial professionals.”

Steve Tran of Northern California came forward in January to claim half of a $648-million Mega Millions jackpot. For weeks, Tran apparently had no idea he was the winner. He had added the winning ticket to a pile of other lottery tickets sitting in his house, on top of a drawer. Tran's family even went on vacation without checking the tickets.

Traverso said he would anticipate the winner coming forward faster this time, probably sometime early next week.

“I give the person the first day to be shocked,” he said, “and then the wheels start turning.”

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Twitter: @MattStevensLAT

matt.stevens@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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