It’s been almost a year since he bought the winning $1.35 billion Mega Millions ticket in Lebanon, and Maine still doesn’t know who he is.

In a lawsuit filed last week in federal court, one thing is clear: Maine’s biggest lottery winner is going to great lengths to conceal his identity since winning the prize on Jan. 13.

The man is suing the mother of his child in U.S. District Court in Portland alleging she violated a nondisclosure agreement by sharing “protected subject matter” with his father and stepmother.

A magistrate judge granted his request to sue anonymously on Wednesday under the name “John Doe.” Documents supporting that request weren’t available Monday. The woman’s identity also is cloaked under a pseudonym, “Sara Smith.”

The sole detail confirmed by the complaint: he lives in Maine, but it doesn’t specify where. The woman lives in Dracut, Massachusetts, according to the complaint. She had no attorney listed in federal records as of Monday afternoon. She has until Dec. 6 to respond.

The man’s attorney, Gregory Brown, of Knoxville, Tennessee, said Monday that neither he nor his client is discussing the lawsuit at this time.


Doe and Smith signed the agreement on Feb. 8, 2023, according to the complaint, just weeks before he claimed his prize at Hometown Gas & Grill in Lebanon through an LLC formed the same month. Both of their names are redacted from a copy of the agreement filed with the complaint.

Under the agreement, Smith promised not to tell anyone other than her significant other, daughter and their attorneys and financial advisers about Doe winning the lottery, his assets and his whereabouts. She also agreed not to share how much he is giving their daughter, an amount that is not included in the complaint.

Smith and Doe signed the order because of “the unique safety, security, and privacy concerns associated with winning the lottery,” the complaint states, for everyone’s safety and “to avoid the irreparable harm of allowing the media or the public in general to discover John Doe’s identity, physical location and assets.”

In exchange, he agreed to provide her “with support and ongoing security resources.”

But in September, the man said that Smith violated the agreement during a phone conversation she had with his father and stepmother. The complaint doesn’t explain what she said.

“As a result of defendant’s unauthorized disclosures, John Doe has suffered irreparable injury, and there is immediate and imminent danger that John Doe will continue to suffer irreparable injury for which there is no adequate remedy at law,” the complaint states.



Doe is seeking temporary injunctive relief from a judge and at least $100,000 in damages.

When someone achieves sudden wealth – say, more than a billion dollars – experts say the experience can be jarring and people are met with a range of emotions: exuberance, guilt, optimism, stress.

“You go from sort of this normal financial existence, and overnight you are thrust into a brand new position,” said Robert Pagliarini, a national financial adviser who has worked with people who have won a lottery prize.

Financial advisers urge lottery winners to be strategic – wait a few months before making any big purchases, take the time to find a team of financial and legal experts, come up with guiding goals or a mission statement to help steer your spending.

But most importantly, they say, you need to figure out how you’re going to break the news to your closest connections – and only the ones you want to know.


“You can never put the privacy and anonymity back in the genie bottle,” said Emily Irwin, who works with lottery winners at Wells Fargo as senior director of advice.

Pagliarini and Irwin aren’t aware of the details of Doe’s case and spoke based on the experiences they have had with their clients.

Only a handful of states offer winners the luxury of remaining anonymous. Maine requires someone to come forward. Doe did so using the limited liability company “LaKoma Island Investments.” The winner chose to take the prize in a one-time cash payment of $723,564,144 before taxes. No other information was released at the time.

According to Maine’s Lottery Claim process, any person who wins at least $600 or more must complete a form to claim their prize. But Maine law defines “person” broadly. A spokesperson for the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, which oversees the Maine lottery, said in an email Monday that LLCs work just fine.

There is no LaKoma Island Investments registered as a business in Maine, according to the Department of the Secretary of State’s database. But a company with that name was registered in Delaware, where thousands of companies are registered because of the tax incentives.

LaKoma’s registered agent, the Corporation Trust Company, is the only contact for the company in Delaware’s database. An operator at the Corporation Trust on Monday described the agent as a “glorified post office” for all sorts of entities and doesn’t handle to any day-to-day business for LaKoma. The operator declined to share more specific contact information for LaKoma.



Some states make it more difficult for lottery winners to shield their identities using other entities. A spokesperson for the secretary of state said Monday that the department has no opinion on whether claiming a lottery prize is considered “doing business” in Maine, which would have required LaKoma to register in Maine as well.

Irwin said forming an LLC or a trust is important, but she advises clients to be careful about what they list. Don’t use a principal agent that can lead back to you, Irwin said, or any addresses associated with you, and make sure your LLC name isn’t something that will identify you.

Outside the legal realm, making a plan with the people you share the news with is also important, Irwin said.

Nondisclosure agreements can limit what a person says and are certainly a “tool in the tool box,” Irwin said. But they don’t cover everything, including ostentatious purchases that might raise suspicions, she said.

Pagliarini said he’s seen nondisclosure agreements used in lottery cases, too, but if the remedy is financial damages, people who usually sign them don’t have a lot to give.

“You violate the NDA – and then what are they going to come after?” Pagliarini asked. “They don’t have a lot of assets to recover in a situation like this. There’s just not a lot of recourse that can occur in situations like this.”

The bigger your prize, the harder it can be to remain anonymous, Pagliarini said.

“You have to keep your circle very, very tight,” he said.

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