Can a Felon Win The Lottery?

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After release from prison on a felony conviction, life goes back to being the way it was prior to the conviction, correct?  As felons know this is far from the truth.

The impact of a felony is enormous and goes on for the rest of their lives.  Many privileges they once enjoyed are no longer available.

This blog post will cover whether the privilege of playing and winning the lottery is one of these lost opportunities.

  • Is it Possible to Win?
  • What If They Have a Warrant?
  • What Happens if a Felon Wins the Lottery?
  • Can Felons Claim Lottery Winnings?
  • Should Felons Play the Lottery?

Is it Possible to Win?

There are some who may believe felons should not be allowed to win such a huge monetary prize.

Some felons who have had serious convictions, such as for sex crimes, have received significant negative media attention for being allowed to play the lottery and collect such a large sum of money.

Legally however, felons can win the lottery (as long as they aren’t still incarcerated), but for felons considering playing the lottery, it is important to recall those who received this major media attention, that winning will place them under intense public scrutiny.

Such unwanted attention makes others aware of their actions and history.  If you have a felony (or numerous felonies) on your record and win, it’s likely that the media will latch on to that.

A example of this is how in 2014, a sexual predator who had been arrested 12 times was still able to receive $3 million in lottery winnings.

How do we know that he had been arrested 12 times?  You guessed it, the media.

What If They Have a Warrant?

Another common question that is often asked is whether or not a someone with a warrant is able to win the lottery.

This is a good one because whether or not the warrant is for a felony or a misdemeanor, the question still arises.

Technically speaking, there should not be a reason why someone with a warrant couldn’t win the lottery.

To go through a scenario; what would happen if someone with a warrant won the lottery?

Let’s say someone with a warrant wins the state lottery for $1 million…

They would take their ticket, go to the local lottery office, and pick up their winnings.

Police and the government would have no reason to be involved.  It would just be another day at the lottery office.

The exception to this is if police somehow knew the individual bought a winning ticket.  Hypothetically this could happen if a store has cameras in place and police noticed that the individual who bought the ticket was someone with a warrant.

Is it likely?  No.  Is it possible?  Yes.

What Happens if a Felon Wins the Lottery?

At first, if a felon won the lottery they’d obviously be excited.  They’d go to their local lottery office and pick up their winnings and, depending on the size of the winnings, may get some media attention.

That said, if a felon does win, they’ll have to be on guard even more to not do anything which might compromise themselves and their freedom.  Those who do not agree with felons being allowed to win the lottery will be watching very closely.

Also, for felons who have committed a crime in which there are clear victims, winning the lottery signals to the victims that those felons have money from which they could be compensated for their crime.

This is true, but it does not mean the victims will automatically receive payment.  They won’t.  They will have to initiate legal action against those felons to sue for payment to them.  But it happens.

Another instance is for felons who may owe restitution to the government or another legal entity.  Lottery winnings are considered income and will be subject to the terms of any restitution clause in their court papers.

Can Felons Claim Lottery Winnings?

Generally speaking, yes, felons can claim lottery winnings.  There are actually instances of this occurring and reported on in several news outlets like this story that highlights 5 folks who have a record, but still won big money in the lottery.

It seems that the only people who can’t actually play the lottery are those that are presently in prison and incarcerated.  However, once they leave prison and return to the streets they are welcome to play as much as they’d like.

That all being said, should the felons claim the lottery winnings themselves?  Well, that depends on how much the winnings are and how much they value their privacy.  If the state allows it, it’s almost always advisable to hire a lawyer and set up a trust to claim the lottery winnings on their behalf.

That said, every state has different rules and you should check with your local lottery office if you’re in this situation.  Staying anonymous is always ideal, and if you can’t do that then it may make sense to hire a lawyer to set up a trust for you and claim the ticket on your behalf.

If your state doesn’t allow either of these scenarios, you should just claim the ticket yourself.  But, when you do, be ready for the media attention and the potentials for loved ones and strangers to come to you looking for money.

Should Felons Play the Lottery?

Felon or not, the chances of anyone winning the lottery is incredibly low.  We had to look it up and the actual odds are, 1 in 13,983,816.

But, at the end of the day, you can’t win if you don’t play.

Everyone knows that the lottery is a bad bet and that the odds are against them, but they still play because there’s always a chance.

It’s no wonder that a felon would want to play (and hopefully win) the lottery.  Incarceration typically leads to debt and when those bills never go away unless they’re repaid.

Though it would probably be better for a felon to take the money they are gambling and put it towards a debt payment plan, or a job training program, sometimes it just makes sense to hope for the dream and buy a lotto ticket.

So what do you think about this blog post about can a felon win the lottery?  Have you or someone you know played and won the lottery?  What was that like and how did it impact their lives?  Please tell us in the comments below.


So what do you think about this blog post about can a felon win the lottery?  Have you or someone you know played and won the lottery?  What was that like and how did it impact their lives?  Please tell us in the comments below.

About the author

After earning his MBA from Benedictine University, Ron was looking for a new challenge and stumbled on the idea of helping the formerly incarcerated.

Using what he learned, Ron developed this website as a free resource and has worked with his team​ to continue answering questions for those in need.

5 thoughts on “Can a Felon Win The Lottery?”

  1. As a felon resource centers have been a dead end for years. Pedophiles are for given and allowed good employment. Others…?? We’re denied at every turn. Employers ,Landlords,Banks,School,all seem to have stipulations or restrictions that hinder felons. Alot like no one favors change,forgiveness,or hope that we may want to do better not to say i havent worked;Popeyes RolyPoly,Dunkin to name a few. My training,skills,etc? Metal Fabrication,Baking,Cooking,Landscaping,Massage Therapy,HVAC,Small Engine,Tattooing,Writing,Swimming… Could go on… But why when no one cares? My Wife Died,Children taken and leg was broken only to be evicted. Mo One Really Cares for Felons. The Agencies given money to help us adjust always deny us.

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