So You Won A Bajillion Dollars In The Lottery — Now What?

Sure, only like, one in a zillion of you might need this information — but what exactly do you do when you win the mega jackpot lottery? Before you run off with your millions of dollars to fill a pool with gold coins so as to swim through it, Scrooge McDuck style, there are some very important things to consider. Why not prepare yourself for your future filthy rich state?

The ever-practical New York Times has got your back, should you ever score that magical, winning ticket. You’ve got to not only protect your money, but your identity and physical person when you’re the newest rich kid on the block.

First of all — what do you do with the ticket? Sign the back, says the NYT, so no one else can claim it if you drop it. Immediately photocopy it and lock it in a safe, or somewhere you know it’s protected.

Then it’s time for a chill pill. Don’t open the floodgates by calling every single person you know, including that boy you loved from first to eighth grade, to let them know your’e the richest person they know. You’ve been a normal person your entire life, pause a few days before you become Lady/Lord Moneybags.

The first person you should tell is a lawyer or financial planner, someone you trust that can help you along the path to riches. And before you go Tweeting about your good luck (#IWinAtLife) and calling the local news station, think twice — it might be better to stay anonymous so as to protect yourself from being bugged by people who just want you for your money. It can be easy to start giving away money to people claiming they need your help.

In some states you can form a trust to manage the money, but some will let your name appear in public records. In other states, you’re actually required to show up and receive that oversized check in front of everyone.

So the big question — is it okay to go on a tiny spending spree? Just the littlest one? Yes — experts say to get it out of your system, but not go totally bonkers at the go-kart store. Everyone will notice if you install a racing track in your backyard and spend your days zooming around in your mink bathrobe, guzzling Dom Perignon.

For more tips and advice regarding taxes, lump sums and more lottery wisdom, check out the source link below. And buy me a pony if you win.

*Thanks for the tip, Howard!

What to Do After You Hit the Mega Millions Jackpot [New York Times]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Beave says:

    Step one, take financial planning advice from a site on the internet!

  2. RipCanO'Flarp. says:

    And I just discovered that I washed my mega millions ticket….. at least it’s clean and unreadable and totally destroyed.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      Yeah…you need to re-read that book on money laundering. You’re doing it wrong.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDave‚Ñ¢ says:

      The ticket number can be traced back to the terminal and the time it was sold. Contact the owner and ask for the video from that time frame to show you buying the ticket. Offer him 10k if it helps prove your the winner. I only need $100 for this advice.

      • Firethorn says:

        Avoiding having anybody else get ahold of the ticket saves even more grief though.

        Heck, I’d recommend signing ALL your tickets, not just the winning ones. If you go so far as to buy lotto tickets.

  3. Hi_Hello says:

    anyone knows how much the business that sells the ticket get from a winning ticket? i know they get something.

  4. Torgonius wants an edit button says:

    I disappear only the way a bajillion dollars lets you disappear.

    With a new name, identity, and copius aounts of hookers and blow.

    • nautox says:

      Well I’m sure there’s better things you can do with the money. I for one am going to use my winnings to save the prince of Nigeria from what he calls “politcol termoil and oppreshun”
      He’s my friend and I have proof he emailed me, so there!

  5. comedian says:

    Uncle Scrooge was so rich he had obsquamatillion dollars. Thats right, obsquamatillion.

    “(For non-McDuckians, the ‚ÄúRichest Duck in the World‚Äù doesn‚Äôt trust banks. He keeps all of his money ‚Äì in the form of coins and bills ‚Äì in a windowless three cubic acre money bin/skyscraper where he can dive, swim, and otherwise cavort in it, delighting in its tangible as well as its fungible attributes.)”

  6. sagodjur says:

    Step two: Unless your job totally sucks or opens you up to some kind of liability, don’t quit your day job, or at least find a new job that is less stressful, but still a decent source of income and forces you to not let the money go to your head.

    • bhr says:

      Bullshit. Maybe if you win a smaller lotto prize you keep your job, but if you win the “MEGA” prize feel free to quit that shit. That is generational money, and if invested wisely you and your decedents can live on the interest for life.

      That’s not to say you can’t find something you want to do, but very, very few people would (or should) keep their jobs if they won $100m

      • RipCanO'Flarp. says:

        Right On! You win- screw work. Folks be working FO ME.

      • Powerlurker says:

        I’d be hitting the slopes all year round, northern hemisphere in the winter, southern in the summer (their winter).

      • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

        No, it’s a good idea, just poorly thought out.

        The issue most people have is going nuts and losing perspective. Keeping your job means you can actually appreciate that vacation time now, you can quit if your boss is being a dick, but if you just stay home and watch QVC all day, you’re the reason that such obvious advice is necessary.

        Even if you have more money than you could ever spend, you should at least make it your part time job to manage and plan your finances. That’s the thing most people aren’t prepared for. Even if you hire someone to manage your affairs, you need to supervise them, and understand and approve the strategy they suggest.

        • StarKillerX says:

          Oh I’d do something that I call a job, but it sure as hell wouldn’t be what I do now. lol!

          I’d run out the door so fucking fast the suction created would pull 6 people out with me!

        • failurate says:

          I have never understood this. How, with a decent amount of wealth, can you run out of stuff to do and at the same time, run out of what should have been an endless amount of money? Yet there have been several winners who have had that very problem.

          My favorite is the people who win gobs of wealth, but then lose it all chasing get rich quick schemes.

      • comedian says:

        I think you meant descendants.

        Decedents have little, if any, need for money.


      • StarKillerX says:

        Yeah, I always loved those winner saying they would keep their job.

        Oh I’d do something that I call a job, but it sure as hell wouldn’t be what I do now. lol!

    • dush says:

      No, if you don’t need the employment step out of the work force so someone else can have a job.

    • dolemite says:

      If anything, I’d create my own company doing something I love. F working for some other idiot that simply see employees as cogs to work to the bone then toss to the side when they are used up.

    • Atticka says:

      Quit your job and get one working for a charity, pick up a trade that you’ve always wanted to try, or go back to school and continue to educate yourself.

    • Jane_Gage says:

      You don’t quit when you win. You get fired.

    • Cor Aquilonis says:

      Whatever. If I win (which would be quite a feat), I will do this:

      Get lawyer.
      Get wealth manager.
      Start my new career as “Adventurer!”

      • failurate says:

        Yeah, this is about a whole lot of money… what type of freaked up submissive masochist is going to continue working for someone else??
        I wouldn’t even write an “I ain’t coming back, you can keep all my stuff” letter.

    • RStormgull says:

      Nothing on this earth would stop me from taking that piss all over the boss’s desk as my two-week notice.

      Okay, maybe not that bad but still the sentiment stands.

    • sagodjur says:

      Apparently everyone only read the “don’t quit your day job” part of my comment and ignored the part about it only being if your job doesn’t suck or opens you to liability or the alternative of getting a more relaxed, less-stressful job.

  7. Flik says:

    As much as I’d love to win, this much money would really bother me. You’d never get another moment’s peace in your life – every charity, distant relative, and get-rich-idea guy would hound you nonstop, around the clock.

    What I’d do:

    1) Hire a lawyer
    2) Hire a tax attorney
    3) Run and hide.

    I’d also set up a foundation that has to approve every donation, so that I could “blame the board.”

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      You know that’s right. When I got back from a 12 month work contract in the Middle-East in 07 I had $50k in my savings. Not one week after I got back I would get phone calls out of the blue by “business reps” wanting me to invest or start an online store. I have no idea how these folks found out I had a substantial savings but they did. IMO, our checking/savings bank data is somehow transparent to anyone outside the bank because I never told anyone that I had this money. I would also get “offers” in the mail. I even got an offer to join an uppity society club located on the east coast, at a cost of course.

    • Kuri says:

      Distant relatives? Hell, you’d be suddenly finding out about relatives and “friends” you never had before.

    • Bor&Mitch says:

      If I had that much money it wouldn’t take long to set myself up as celebrities, professional athletes and high profile politicians do…buy a house with lots of property, high walls and technology/human security. I’d have a secretary taking calls and a chauffeur to take me to places. I’d never have to deal with anyone directly. That jackpot is big enough for that and more.

    • tehbob says:

      hire a CPA/accountant

  8. deathbecomesme says:

    “I’d do two girls at one time”

  9. Vox Republica says:

    The strategy that’s family canon at this point (even though we tend to view the lotto as a tax on people that are bad at maths): go on vacation. Immediately. As disparate elements, we all have enough money where we could leave town on a whim, and the plan is to do so for as long as we can–just until the immediate scrutiny dies down. Of course, signing the ticket and dropping it in a safe deposit box is technically the first step, but from there it’s hop in the car and get out of Dodge for a while. Me, I’d go camping and enjoy the simple things before the eternal axiom of Mo Money, Mo Problems kicks in.

  10. kathygnome says:

    Do you like my hat? It’s made of MONEY!

  11. macnbc says:

    If you want to protect your identity, DON’T sign the ticket. If you go to a lawyer and set up a blind trust first, then your identity is legally protected. The trust can claim the lottery prize and your name will never be publicized.

    If you do sign the ticket, then only you as an individual can claim the prize, which means that your face and name are going to be national headlines. So much for staying private.

    • msbask says:

      So how do you protect the ticket in the meantime?

      • RickScarf says:

        Don’t tell anyone but your lawyer, and before you even get a lawyer get a safe deposit box and only keep a photo of the ticket on you… seems like the safest way to me.

  12. rpm773 says:

    I tell you what I’d do: Take it in a lump sum, pay the taxes, invest the rest, and live off the interest. If that’s enough for me to live without working, great. If not, I’ll keep a job.

    Of course, such a plan precludes me from ever winning. That and the fact I never buy tickets.

    • pythonspam says:

      “You are missing the point Samir.” The point was that whatever you would do if you had a million dollars is the career you should pursue.

  13. do-it-myself says:

    I’d call Suze Orman. She’s hook me up with the right people.

  14. Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

    I found this sentence mildly amusing: “The first person you should tell is a lawyer or financial planner, someone you trust that can help you along the path to riches.”

    • Cat says:

      YES! Because you can trust lawyers!

    • BackInBlack says:

      A financial planner you can trust? Like that nice Bernie Madoff fellow? I’d call him. Oh, wait, I think I heard somewhere that he’s not taking on any new clients for a few years…

  15. JohnDeere says:

    “install a racing track in your backyard and spend your days zooming around in your mink bathrobe, guzzling Dom Perignon. “

    i didnt have a plan but i do now, thanks consumerist!!!!!

  16. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    it might be better to stay anonymous so as to protect yourself from being bugged by people who just want you for your money

    Um…there is no state that lets you stay anonymous after winning the lottery. Once you claim the prize, you’re outed.

    • comedian says:

      Wrong, at least one MegaMillions state lets you stay anonymous.


    • comedian says:

      Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, & North Dakota allow you to remain anonymous.

      Several other states allow the use of a trust to remain anonymous.

      • TheMansfieldMauler says:

        Um…there is few states that lets you stay anonymous after winning the lottery. Once you claim the prize, you’re outed.

        Ok, you’re right. I find it odd because I thought that was part of the process to ensure a fair and impartial outcome…to make sure the winners aren’t all friends/family/associates of someone at the lottery commission, etc.

    • bluline says:

      A month or so ago there was a lawyer who claimed a huge prize on behalf of an unnamed client who wished to remain anonymous. I don’t recall the state or the particular lottery, but it was a multi-million-dollar prize.

    • dolemite says:

      True, but nothing says you can’t move away and disappear. That’s my plan. The people I like will get checks.

  17. dwtomek says:

    I laughed at installing a racetrack. Was this in reference to the lottery winner in the UK who did exactly that?

  18. Donathius says:

    My wife and I have had this odd conversation. The first thing we’d do is talk to a lawyer or financial planner so that this is handled intelligently. Then we’d (probably) take the lump sum, pay the taxes, pay off credit cards, pay off student loans, pay off car loan, buy a few nice things (decent but not extravagant house, one new car), replace some aging furniture, set aside a college fund for our son, and probably take a vacation. We’ve also talked about doing some nice things for people that have done well by us – paying off my grandparents’ house for instance (they’ve given us thousands in gifts/service just when we needed it). Most importantly I’d keep working. I’ll never get rich doing what I do, but we do fine. I just enjoy what I do too much to quit and I’d get really bored being 30 and not having a job.

    • vorpalette says:

      This is exactly what mine and my fiance’s plan is. Take the lump sum, pay the taxes, pay off debts, buy a nice house (which are pretty cheap where we live), make a few donations to charity, start a business (probably two, one for him and one for me), probably take a vacation, and then invest the rest in various places. We also discussed going to a bank and asking to pay off someone’s mortgage (has to be in immediate danger of losing their house due to hardship), but we weren’t sure if any bank would actually let us do that.

      • tinmanx says:

        Lucky you. We talked about this once and my wife’s plan is to give it all to our family and we continue to work and live in a walk in closet. I dropped the subject after that, it’s better not knowing.

    • Firethorn says:

      I’ve figured out that I’m not quitting my current job for less than $10M post tax. Once you start looking at the costs for private healthcare, that you now have to fund your own retirement(you’re losing substantial social security benefits if you quit early), and such that you need a lot more money.

      And yes, my first stop is to a financial planner – and I’m going to an actual registered firm; not just ‘some dude’.

    • JP says:

      Why do people take the lump sum? It’s never made sense to me.

      • GoJints says:

        If you’re young, taking the yealry payments is fine. I’m almost 60 – I may not make it through 20 years of payments. For me, a lump sum makes more sense.

        • elangomatt says:

          I always thought that you got to name a beneficiary when taking an annuity like that and if you didn’t make it through all of the 20 years, then the beneficiary would still get to collect that money.

          • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

            This is true, however, it does ME no good as far as being able to enjoy and use the money after I take a dirt nap. Hence, the lump sum payment would be a better choice, depending on age and health status or expected health status (although with hundreds of millions of dollars to spend on specialists, medicines, and doctors, an otherwise questionable health status could be remedied).

      • comedian says:

        1) The rate of return reflected in the difference between the lump-sum and the annuity is dismally low.

        2) Income taxes are near a historical low right now. Waiting for the annuity risks higher future income tax rates on high earners.

        3) If the annuity were a good choice, there wouldn’t be so many folks looking to sell their lottery prize annuities for less than their current NPV.

        • Kate says:

          You still have to invest the money, so you will just end up paying the higher taxes later.

          • AtlantaCPA says:

            If you find an investment that pays 100% per year let me know. If it exists then you have a point, otherwise your math needs a little attention.

    • c_c says:

      The difference between the lump sum and the total annuity is of the bond that the lottery puts the funds in. When you take inflation, taxes (they’re low right now), and whatnot into account, most financial experts agree you’re better of taking the lump sum and investing it yourself, the potential for future returns is better than that of the annuity.

  19. mt.j says:

    @Hi_Hello It depends on the state. Some pay the store a million bucks. Here in South Dakota I think it’s only $250k.

  20. Cat says:

    Blow all the money on hookers. blow, and a house I can’t afford, and file for food stamps.

    • scoosdad says:

      Why did I know you were going to say that?

      Would you go back to paying for cable, too?

    • StarKillerX says:

      Yeah, you could be like the low life in Michigan who won a million dollars in the lottery and then wanted to stay on welfare because other then her lottery winnings she had no income, two houses and bills to pay.

  21. RobertWBoyd says:

    Three words–gold-plated helicopters.

  22. WalterSinister2 says:

    In California, you can’t claim the prize anonymously.

  23. corridor7f says:

    This is just a cruel post.

  24. jefeloco says:

    But I want a gokart, at least a KTM X-Bow, the hotted up one with 350 hp…

    Maybe an Ariel Atom 500…

    Maybe one (or two) of each… and a replica Nurburgring built in the middle of some wildlife conservation reserve…

  25. speaky2k says:

    This is one of the few problems I wish I had. But I am not that lucky. The most I ever won on a lotto ticket is $5. Then again since I only play once in a while, and it is usually when it is really high (like now) and only spend $5-10 at a time, I don’t really have a good statistic of winning to losing.

  26. bhr says:

    I buy occasionally, I like the fantasy…

    If I win a prize like this current one (or say, anything 10m+) the first thing I do is take care of family. My parents, siblings and aunt each get a big check immediately, say 250k (or a trust set up as a financial pro suggests). First cousins and a couple of old friends get smaller gifts either of cash or products (depending on what they need).

    I take 1m and “splurge.” A nice house somewhere in suburban MD with a pool. A new car or two (I’m thinking a 4wd and something like an M3), a nice vacation to see friends/family around the world. Season tix for my sports teams. Go back to school and take some classes.

    I take another chunk and endow a scholarship at my alma mater (state school)..

    Then I take the rest and leave it in the initial trust, ideally invested to show returns at minimum in the 10% range. I would live on 5% (250k on 5m, 500k on 10m) and put the rest back into principal. If the prize was big enough I would like to think I could cap myself to spending in that 500k range regardless of interest.

    What I don’t do is give a big chunk up front to any charity (those commitments can come back to bite you), invest in any business ventures for “friends” without serious research by a financial adviser, trust one person to manage the funds unmonitored (I have a lawyer friend I would use to hire a financial person, a tax acct. and a lawyer with estate planning experience) or touch the principal after the initial expenditures.

    With the market the way it is, I would probably buy a few properties for my parents as investments.

    • BackInBlack says:

      That’s exactly how I justified blowing $5 on tickets for three games today (one was of course MegaMillions)—it’s almost worth it (well $1 of it anyway) just to indulge and enjoy the fantasy for a few minutes. It’s like my Rachel McAdams wallpaper or Fergie screensaver on my computer. Ain’t ever really gonna happen, but it’s fun to think about now and again.

  27. SmokeyBacon says:

    If I win the lottery – any significant amount – first thing sign the back and scan/copy it. Second thing – call my accountant. I don’t play often (last time was on my 40th birthday on 11/11/11 – thought it might be a day where I would have some luck but nope, not even close) but my boyfriend plays (and has maybe won $5) and he has that same plan. Accountant first. We are very lucky to have found a great accountant who we trust.

    As far as staying anonymous that would be my goal, but since the newsfolk all feel the need to plaster the winners information everywhere I don’t see how that would work for anyone. I would try as hard as possible though (and if it did become known and people started coming out of the woodwork asking me for money, I am pretty sure my response to most of them would be to tell them to suck it – only a select few are worthy of my help, and it isn’t most of the suckholes I know now – though I woudl bring cupcakes in to work before telling my boss what I really think of him – at least my coworkers would get that!)

    Oh, and of course I would go lump sum because if I am not mistaken lottery winnings cannot be willed to another person, and with my family history it might be tough to make it the 20 years to get it all (though I guess with that kind of money I afford awesome healthcare).

    • mt.j says:

      Actually – if you take the annuity option, if you die the rest does go into your estate. It doesn’t go back to the lottery.

      • SmokeyBacon says:

        Oh that is interesting because I always heard that if you die that is it, no more money for you or the estate – not inheritable. Guess my sources were wrong. Of course, since I can’t remember where I heard it (but I can tell you it was around the time the 81 year old lady won the big jackpot) it was probably not super reliable.

    • macnbc says:

      If you don’t sign the back of the ticket, go to a lawyer and set up a blind trust, then you can have the trust claim the prize and you’ll remain anonymous.

      • SmokeyBacon says:

        Would that really work – wasn’t there that whole issue in Iowa with a lawyer doing that for some clients and it being investigated to the point that they ended up dropping the whole thing and not taking the money? Of course it was a known shifty lawyer, and he did try to claim it only hours before the expiration deadline, but it was a legitimate ticket.

        I do like that I could stay anonymous though.

    • SmokeyBacon says:

      I should add that what I would actually do with the money is use it to help out animal shelters and maybe even open one. I would get a bigger house with a big yard, and I would just be like a housewife (I know it is not very feminist of me but my ideal job would be a 1950’s housewife).

  28. axolotl says:

    Finally! I’ve been scouring the internet for WEEKS for an article that would help me decide what to do with all these grillions of dollars I just won! Thanks Consumerist!

  29. scoosdad says:

    I’d throw a little money to a certain nationally known consumer research organization and website on the condition that they hire back a former managing editor.

    Then the hookers and blow. Enough for everyone!

    (the latter statement may or may not be true)

  30. axolotl says:
  31. thomwithanh says:

    *Pay off all bills and debt for myself and family
    *Send rest to a trust
    *Have trust pay $1 million dollar “salary” to me a year and wisely invest the rest
    *Business as usual

  32. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    I’d quit this sucky job, get a small, sturdy house with solar and wind power in addition to the electric grid, stock up on supplies, and do volunteer work. I’d get a newer model car, like a Ford Focus, and I’d make sure my parents never had to go to a nursing home, and if the need arose, would hire 24/7 registered nurses to help take care of them if they become frail.

    Other than that, I don’t think my life would change much.

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      And one more thing: I’d take my dog to have his cataracts fixed.

  33. sgtyukon says:

    In accounting, there’s something called a material difference. If a discrepancy is a few cents on a million dollars, for example, you can ignore it. The odds of winning the $500 million Mega Millions drawing are so bad there’s no material difference in your odds of winning if you buy a ticket as opposed to if you don’t. Unless, of course, you win. So you probably don’t need a plan any more than I do.

    That being said, if I win, I’m putting a video camera outside the door of the place I used to work so that every day I can record the people I used to know going to work. Then, every day, I’ll watch it–if I feel like it, which I probably won’t..

  34. Gravitational Eddy says:

    My very own island. With 24/7 bar and white sand beach with a sign that says ” If you aren’t Gravitational Eddy, you shouldn’t be here. Now go away, back the way you came.”

  35. eezy-peezy says:

    If you plan on splitting it with family, set that up in a trust BEFORE claiming the prize. Let everyone pay their own taxes instead of you giving them money after YOU pay taxes.

  36. Dyscord says:

    I know I wouldn’t go out and imediately buy a mansion or something. For the most part, I’d live normally. I’d probably indulge a little….buy a newer car(I drive a 95 Escort), build a future proof PC….things like that.

    • Back to waiting, but I did get a cute dragon ear cuff says:

      Bwaahhhaaahhaa, a future proof PC. That is the most hysterical concept I have heard. Thanks for the laugh.

  37. maxamus2 says:

    Since most of the people that play the lottery are poor, how many of these people ALREADY have a layer or accountant that they “trust”?

  38. Alan says:

    I would rent out the wipe out zone for my b-day. (stole this from someone else)

  39. fieldy920 says:

    You know… given the possibility of winning the lottery, why not take a bird’s eye view and go a little higher than that.

    What were the chances that you would be:

    Born… (you were the result of chance meetings of a very large amount of people)

    As a Human (could have been a chicken)

    In a first world country.

    Given all that, I’d say your odds of winning the lottery are entirely within acceptable deviations compared to the cosmic lottery each of us has won getting here to where we are today.

  40. Kahlidan says:

    I’ve often wondered about this-if you win a large enough jackpot for it to matter if you take the lump sum vs the annuity, is it possible to prefund your winnings with a private company? I’ve seen the “Lottery Changed My Life” show often enough to know taking the lump sum means you get screwed out of half the windfall, so someone winning 200 million might actually get something closer to 60 after taxes. I’d rather employ the services of a capital company like JG Wentworth for cash up front at whatever their fee is (10-15%?), then sign over the winnings to them. I’m sure it’s not even close to the 50% you would otherwise lose, but is this possible?

    • Back to waiting, but I did get a cute dragon ear cuff says:

      The full amount paid by annuity is based upon the lottery investing the amount of the lump sum in the most conservative, best guaranteed funds that they can find. Basically US Treasury notes. They then dole out the money in yearly payments to you.

      If you are willing to take even the slightest risk (state bonds, utility bonds, etc). you will come out ahead. If you actively manage (I don’t mean day trading, but blue chip stocks and such) your investments, you can come out way ahead.

      Not sure what those companies pay, but I am pretty sure it will be less than what the investments pay over the long haul.

      • Kahlidan says:

        I was just thinking of ways to beat inflation, and the problem with taking the annunity is that you can’t do that, and that the money you’d receive is worth a lot less at the end of the payment term than the beginning.. If you borrowed or were fronted a lump sum by a 3rd party, most of that could be invested to generate dividends. As long as the investments you make are generating a significant % more than inflation, you’re coming out ahead and once you spend a bit of the principal, you could probably live off of that easily.

    • These Are Not My Pants says:

      I used to work for JGW, and I can tell you that you’d be better off taking the lump sum up front from the lottery. Firms like JGW don’t just take a “fee”, they calculate the net present value (NPV) of your winnings and pay you a lump sum based on that. The lottery lump sum is basically the same thing, but JGW is looking for more of a profit so they’ll calculate the NPV and then maybe offer you 50 or 75% of that up front. You can negotiate for more, but at a certain point they may determine the transaction is no longer worth it.

  41. KyBash says:

    I like to think that a large amount of money would let me get back to the basics and enjoy the two things that truly make life worthwhile — expensive scotch and cheap women.

    I’d probably squander the rest.

  42. graytotoro says:

    “Everyone will notice if you install a racing track in your backyard and spend your days zooming around in your mink bathrobe, guzzling Dom Perignon”

    I guess there goes my dream of building a mini-N√ºrburgring in my backyard…

  43. final_atom says:

    one word: annuity

    guarantee not to be poor for x amount of years.

  44. failurate says:

    After lawyering and trusting up… I would buy my neighbor’s house and burn it to the ground.
    If it was really enough money, I might even skip the buy it part.

    • failurate says:

      Then, I’m going re-enact every episode of Three Sheets.

      • failurate says:

        And then I would sue my former neighbor for something stupid, like getting ashes on my lawn or giving my cat asthma. I wouldn’t even care if I lost.

  45. kataisa says:

    Claim your lottery winnings as an LLC.

    “In other states, you’re actually required to show up and receive that oversized check in front of everyone.”

    Can you show up wearing a disguise?

  46. Frankz says:

    Several have said it already: do NOT sign the back of the ticket, because if you do then you really are the only one that can claim the prize and your name is instantly public.
    Only 1 state (I think it’s Delaware?), allows claimants to remain anonymous without using a trust.
    If you set up a regular trust to have the lawyer claim the prize for the trust, the name of the beneficiary of the trust (you) can still be had thru public records. It has to be a blind trust, in which the beneficiaries can not be revealed. And don’t worry about having a lawyer or some other trustee have control over all the money. You can set up restrictions and stipulations when you form the trust, as to what they can and can’t do with the money, and how they have to do it. You can also make it a revocable trust, so that you can cancel it at any time.

    And don’t worry about the lottery still needing your name to claim the prize, because you’re not claiming the prize. The trust is. And the trust, as a fully legal entity like a person, is then named as the winner. The lottery is therefore not being claimed anonymously, but by a named legal entity.

    Some states have certain laws still requiring the actual persons name so they can be checked for debts, such as back taxes to that state or child support or such, but you still wouldn’t be named as winner.

    • Kuri says:

      Plus, if you sign it, and someone else finds it, there’s not much to stop them from trying to force you to claim it and give it to them.

  47. JollyJumjuck says:

    True, useless information at least for me. With my luck, everyone single one of you readers will win the lottery twice before my chance comes up. So, in other words, never.

  48. MikeVx says:

    In Michigan, you can have your name withheld on prizes over $10,000 for state-level games. The multi-state games prohibit this, apparently. (I just looked this up on the Michigan Lottery web site.) This is why I buy tickets on state games only.

    I have long had a plan for dealing with winning the lottery, which, as others have indicated, pretty much assures my odds are much worse than probability would have it.

    First, tuck the ticket into a really safe place. Let it sit for a minimum of three months, tell nobody. After a few months to let interest die down and the rush wear off, research the options in detail, hire any needed attorneys and/or financial types, quietly claim the money in the middle of the one-year period after winning, when there is no interest in unclaimed prizes because the year is not running out and the furor over the win had died down.

    Get the money in a lump, and spread it out over several financial institutions.

    Pay off any outstanding debts, which absent another expensive disaster, should not actually exist as I have all my non-repeating debts cleared.

    Spread a story that I won a prize sufficient to pay for the house repairs I will be doing, if I haven’t made them by then, (and there is always something else that needs doing anyway) with some left over that I can use for a few extra weekend trips. These will be true statements. I don’t have to go into detail beyond that, and everyone will assume that there is not enough left over to try and gold-dig for. Since home repair work tends to be visible, this provides a verification of the story and makes it unlikely that I will be pursued further as the rest of the plan is into low-profile spending.

    After that, aside from upgrading some of my computer gear, I’d likely spend more time thinking of what to do. I’m not the type to see happiness in dropping huge amounts of money on random clutter. I’ve got too much stuff around the house as it is.

    Somewhere along the line I’d have my old car checked from stem to stern and anything that could develop into trouble in the future would get handled. The advantage of this is that it is low-profile, the repair shop is across town and the neighbors can’t see non-surface repairs.

    The strategy here is to give a reasonable explanation for the visible expenditures, the invisible ones are definitionally not a problem, being spread out across many organizations and people.

    Only after the first year would I consider the issue of quitting my job, and even then I’d have a credible front such as a self-run business so people see somewhere for income to come from.

    To me, the benefit of winning that kind of money would be the ability to maintain a slightly-upgraded version of my present lifestyle without financial disaster being a worry.

  49. StarKillerX says:

    Come on people, you just how a bajillion dollars, don’t you want to have a little fun with it?

    Why all this talk of remaining anonymous, the only one I’d want to be anonymous to would be the IRS. Other then that I would rent out every billboard in town and put us signs with me rolling in a pile of money and saying “Yep, I won a zillion dollars, but you ain’t getting none of it so piss off!”

    • failurate says:

      I would have a hard time keeping my gabazillionaire status a secret. I might not ever talk about it, but my wardrobe of diamond encrusted, panda skin tuxedos would probably tip some people off.

      That and the fact that I would refuse to eat anything that was not previously eaten by a civet.

  50. Rootbeer says:

    I would have a museum of firearms that would make the NRA’s National Firearms Museum look like a failing gun shop. (Not really, but it would be cool)

  51. WhenPigsFly says:

    First thing to do when winning 500 million: Change my cell number.

  52. Kuri says:

    My family and I have already agreed that if it ever happens to us that there are VERY few people we would tell.

    We don’t need relatives or friends we hadn’t seen in years or that couldn’t give a piss about us suddenly showing up.

    Hell, we already have an ex grandmother who we want nothing to do with, we don’t need her suddenly caring.

  53. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    Winning the lottery is my worst nightmare, hence why I don’t play. Just know that everyone you ever met will think that you should share your winnings with them. If you don’t, they will never speak to you again. If you do share, it will never be enough, ever.

    What’s even worse is that if you win a smaller jackpot, say $2 million. You take home about 1/2 after taxes. That’s not enough money to do much with. You could pay off your house, cars, student loans and put the rest back for retirement (maybe 10 years worth, if that) and you would be done. Family and friends probably wouldn’t understand just how little money that is. People hear you won the lotto and they automatically think that makes you rich.

    If I won the lottery, I would do my damnedest to make sure no one found out except my spouse. I would just pretend I got a really good job and took some money managing courses to cover for a few extravagances. I would totally lie low. I would also give a ton to charity, probably half.I would find ways to help family and friends if they really needed it, they just wouldn’t know it was me. I am sure that there are ways to do things–like pay off someone’s house through a dummy corp. or something if you wanted to do that for parents or siblings and didn’t want them to know it was you.

  54. Kestris says:

    Thank you for reminding me that I need to buy a Mega Millions ticket, since it’s over 500 million (541 million to be exact) and that’s really the only time we play (when it goes over a couple hundred million).

  55. Sad Sam says:

    Do not tell anyone at all, not family, not friends, etc. You do legally have to tell your spouse. Put said ticket in a safe deposit box at bank, prepay 6 months of box fees. Don’t sign ticket, lots of people say sign ticket right away but see below.

    Consult lawyer who specializes in asset protection/tax and estate planning. Determine whether you want to or need to set up a trust, i.e. your trust is going to take possession of lottery monies. In some scenarios it may make sense to take possession of monies via trust, easier for gifting and may help with taxes. This is why you don’t want to sign ticket right away. Also, if your trust takes possession of the monies you may be able to avoid publicity. Develop a plan, if you win a gazillion dollars you might be okay quitting your job, but don’t make any rash decisions. Winning a million or two will not set you up for life, esp after taxes are taken out, do don’t quit your job.

    Once you have this all figured out, travel to lottery hq, bring your attorney with you, and claim prize. From state to state the rules differ on publicity but do your best to avoid any and all publicity if at all possible. If you can avoid all publicity, all the better.

    Continue not telling people where you new found wealth came from and try to hold off on making any big decisions for 6 mos to a year. If you are planning on quitting your job and living of income from lottery investments it will take some time to make investments and for income to come in and for you to know how much income you’ll have from month to month. Try not to buy big houses and fancy cars b/c the carrying costs are often overlooked and bankrupt many a lottery winner.