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HOWTO Deal With Winning the Lottery

This article was written by in Saving. 12 comments.

Are you more likely to play the major lottery when the jackpot is more than $250 million? If you happen to play, and if you’re really lucky, there’s a chance, however slim, you might win it all. Let’s say you just realized you’re taking home the grand prize and you’re the only winner. Now what?

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According to the experts offering advice in an MSN Money article, here are some steps you should take.

  • Keep the ticket safe. You’re not turning the winning ticket in right away, but it’s your proof that you won. Hold on to it in a safe deposit box while you make the rest of your preparations.
  • Think about your job. We just had this discussion in the office as I put my $1 into the pool. Most winners quit their jobs, even if a significant number say they won’t. But don’t jump the gun, and don’t make a scene.
  • Find people you can trust. You’ll need a lawyer, accountant, and financial advisor. If you don’t have any currently, ask for referrals from friends.
  • Decide on a lump sum or payments. When I was younger, I used to have this discussion with friends. In general, the thinking was that it was much better to take the payment option as the lump sum payout is significantly less than the sum of all the payments. But if you take the lump sum and are diligent about investing, you could end up with more in the end. In reality, most of the time the winners who choose the lump sum option are not diligent.
  • Arrange for a special account at the bank. Although we’d love to get take an oversized cardboard check to the bank, your winnings are transferred by wire. You’ll need a special bank account to handle the deposits.
  • Change your phone number. You never know how many relatives and long lost friends you have until you have come across a large sum of money. With a new unlisted number, you can be in control of those with the ability to contact you.

The article continues with more tips:

You’re about to become filthy rich, so splurge if you want to and arrive at lottery headquarters by limo, helicopter or elephant, if you are so inclined. But don’t take too much time. There’s always a deadline.

If you’re a person who is habitually late, watch out for this. Who wants to miss out on $250 million due to traffic or issues with the day-care?

The Tax Man cometh before you even get your money, immediately making you 28% poorer. And if you’re the kind of scoundrel who owes something called state-owned-debt, such as back taxes or child support, the lottery folks take that off the top as well.

That’s quite a bite for the government, but if you’re still coming out with $180 million after taxes, can you complain?

Finding a way to spend millions may seem insurmountable, but it’s really not that difficult. Many folks — lottery winners and insta-rock stars alike — have succeeded in finding solutions to this particular “problem.”

The article provides some tips for spending and saving large amounts of money responsibly.

You’ll probably want to help out your family and those who were friends before you were rich. You might be interested in leaving a legacy by helping your favorite cause in a major way… And you’ll probably want to have something at the end to leave to your heirs — ’cause then you get to play all kinds of mind games writing up your will different ways.

Updated September 24, 2015 and originally published February 28, 2006.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

“Don’t jump the gun” (on quitting work).

I think I would at least wait until the money hit my account before I left.

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avatar 2 Luke Landes


Not only is it a good idea to wait until the money’s in the bank, but it might be good to try to leave on best terms (that is, no “See you losers later.”). Who knows how quickly the money will be squandered and you’ll be back begging for a job. :-)

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avatar 3 Anonymous

It’s tragic that such a high percentage of folks squander all their money away. It’s a perfect example of why it is so critical to teach some level of money management in school. From all the articles I’ve read about lottery winners losing everything, it appears that they just didn’t know any better. My guess is that they didn’t even realize that they could create a reasonable income stream off the principal.

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avatar 4 Anonymous

That is something that always amazes me also…how can lottery winners blow through so much money? I have seen Dateline or 20/20 reports about how they often end up bankrupt and less happy than before they won the lottery.

I personally would stay at my job if I won. I may not work quite as hard, but I would stay.

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avatar 5 Anonymous

You have to remember that most people that win aren’t necessarily the most financially aware people – if they were, they probably wouldn’t be playing the lottery in the first place.

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avatar 6 Anonymous

I dream of how I would invest money won,and think I have a pretty good financial plan, but I was wondering,If you would take the payment option, and then die,,are the remaining payments,considered part of your estate,and go to your heirs,or is it lost?

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avatar 7 Anonymous

yes it goes to ur heirs.

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avatar 8 Anonymous

I used to know a very friendly guy who pumped my gas.

One day he showed me an old newspaper clipping with a photo of himself headlined “5 Million Dollar Mike”.

He explained that he won $5,000,000 in the lottery a few years ago; had a big house and fast cars in California; then lost it all– because of his girlfriend.

He now holds two jobs pumping gas– one job to pay his bills and the other paycheck is used to buy more lottery tickets — because he KNOWS he can win it again.


“Congratulations!” the king in Gary Hart’s BC comic strip says to the peasant.

“What are you going to do with your lottery winnings?”

“Well”, the peasant replies, “gambling has been pretty good to me!”

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avatar 9 Anonymous

i would probably give 1 million dollar to each of my family members

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avatar 10 Anonymous

I used to work as an Admin Ass’t at a private foundation, so I’ve always thought of starting a foundation of my own, if I had a large sum of money. Not only would I get to give money away to organizations doing good work (in the arts, conservation and giving children & adults tools to take charge of their lives), but I’d give myself a permanent job — at the salary I chose! Since I prefer to work and be productive than to just hang out and be on “leisure time”, I know this would work well for me. So, let me ask you, if you were given a large sum of money, with the stipulation that you had to somehow create a job for yourself with it, what would you do?

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avatar 11 Anonymous

My question is, if I were to win $180 million, where do I keep such a large sum of money safe. FDIC insurance only covers $100,000. Doing business with a bank that is popular and well known or multiple accounts in various banks? Other… who knows, I might win LOL!

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avatar 12 Anonymous

I have no college degree nor any college experience I worked for a Shareholder firm for 10 years until getting fired a year ago …I will say that I’m fairly experienced with money and I do have some options and ideas on how to invest but let me tell you if I had hit the lottery early last year I would haev quit my job so fast and told my supervisor to kiss my rear so fast all they would have seen is a blur outthe door.

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