Winning the North Carolina Lottery: What to Know First

By: Jared James, Founder

Key Takeaways

  • NC Lottery winners can only stay anonymous if they have special state protection from violent threats.
  • Attorneys may be able to lower your financial profile through LLCs or trusts.
  • You have 90 days to collect NCEL scratch-off prizes and 180 days to collect NCEL draw game prizes.

Imagine your dream comes true, and the stars align to hand you a big lottery win. Now what? Most players have only dreamed of winning and never thought about next steps.

So, we looked into the North Carolina Education Lottery (NCEL) to find exactly what you need to know after a win.

Can NC Lottery Winners Stay Anonymous?

After claiming a winning prize, the NCEL automatically puts the player’s information in the public record. A winner can only avoid this release if they show a valid Address Confidentiality Program authorization card or a protective order.

Who qualifies for the Address Confidentiality Program:

  • Domestic violence victims
  • Sexual assault victims
  • Stalking victims
  • Human trafficking victims

Who gets a protective order is less clear. But North Carolina authorities will give them out if they feel someone is in danger of bodily harm. So unless you’re threatened by violence, your name is going in public record after a lottery win.

Are Lottery Winners Kept Secret?

Just because your win is in the public record doesn’t mean you’re out of options. A good lawyer can help you allocate the money in a low-key way. For example, certain trusts may protect your money from flashy spending or help shield assets you purchase.

An attorney can also set you up with a Limited Liability Company (LLC). LLCs are business legal entities and may be beneficial as you invest your money or purchase additional assets.

How Long Do You Get to Cash in a Lottery Ticket?

Instant scratch-off games give you 90 days after the official end-of-game announcement to cash in your ticket. Prizes under $600 can be claimed at any NC Lottery retailer and thankfully, you can collect any prize under $100,000 by mail. However, if you win $100,000 or more, you’ll need to visit NC Lottery Headquarters.

Draw game tickets are valid within 180 days of the winning draw and can be claimed in the same way as scratch off games.

If you’re looking for more North Carolina Lottery info or playing tips, visit our NC Lottery Hub, packed with the latest results, how to guides and odds comparisons.