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If the giver was in the US, wouldn't there be some gift tax or other legal problems with doing this?

The prize had to be earned, therefore it is income to the recipient, not a gift. This means it is taxable to the recipient.

US gift tax is the recipients burden (above 14k)

That is almost never true (see https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tips/estates/the-gift-tax/L1...). Gift taxes are nearly always the givers burden.

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