When players see that an actual person won, "it has a much greater impact than when they might read that the lottery paid a big prize to an anonymous player," said Andi Brancato, director of public relations for the Michigan state lottery.
Most states require the names of lottery winners be disclosed, albeit in different ways. Some states require the winner to appear at a press conference, like Missouri winners Mark and Cindy Hill did on Nov. 30.
Arizona and other states allow winners not to appear in public, but their names can be obtained through public records laws. The Arizona winner, Matthew Good, was not identified at the news conference a week after the Hills' came forward, and has not given interviews or appeared in public.
When news media including The Associated Press learned of his name through records requests, TV crews and reporters flocked to Good's neighborhood to get reaction from the winner of a lottery that captivated the nation.
Jeff Hatch-Miller, executive director of the Arizona Lottery, said he understands winners' desire for privacy, but he argues they are essentially entering into a large contract with the government that is public. Others argue that appearing at a news conference helps defuse media interest because the winner is available to answer questions that satisfy the media's interest in telling their stories.
In Michigan, Republican state Sen. Tory Rocca pushed a lottery bill that allows winners to remain anonymous. It didn't pass, but in arguing for it, he cited cases where lottery winners were shot and killed because of their newfound wealth.