What to Do If You Win the Lottery (Do This Immediately)

Winning the lottery will change your life in unimaginable ways. Here are a few essential things you’ll have to handle before you get to all the fun.

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Adam Moelis
Aug 7, 2022
12 min read

Playing the lottery is easily the most common form of gambling in the United States. All you need is an ID that proves you’re old enough to buy a lottery ticket legally. After that, it’s as simple as selecting the luckiest numbers and handing over a few dollars to the cashier. 

One of the reasons that the lottery is so common is that it’s everywhere. There are currently 48 jurisdictions that run a lottery or Powerball in the United States, including 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. With such widespread access, it makes sense that around 50 percent of Americans play the lottery at least once a year. 

The overwhelming majority of lottery players will unfortunately not win the jackpot. Then again, it wouldn’t be much of a jackpot if everyone won. 

The reality is that you only have about a one in 292 million chance of winning the lottery. While it’s improbable that you’ll beat those odds, it’s not impossible. Someone has to win the lottery eventually, so why couldn’t it be you?

What Should You Do Once You Win the Lottery?

Life is about to start moving very fast if you’ve managed to pick the correct numbers and win the lottery. You will have achieved a feat that is way less likely than winning an Oscar, getting crushed by a meteorite, being elected President of the United States, or becoming an Olympic gold medalist. 

With odds like that, there aren’t many people in history who can relate to the emotions you’ll encounter as a big lottery winner. However, the time for celebration will be later because there are a lot of critical things that you need to take care of first:

Before Turning in the Ticket

Take A Deep Breath. 

The very first thing that you need to do is try to catch your breath. Once you’ve realized that you possess the winning ticket, you’re likely to experience a rush of adrenaline, unlike anything you’ve ever felt before. Take a deep breath, sit down, and try your best to collect your emotions so that you can think straight.  

Don’t Rush To Collect. 

Depending on the state, you can claim your lottery winnings anywhere between 90 days to a year. You should make sure of the exact time frame, but there’s no need to rush in and collect your winnings just yet. Take the time as an opportunity to plan and let the media frenzy surrounding the lottery die down a bit. 

Secure The Ticket. 

Hitting the lottery doesn’t mean anything without the winning ticket. You’ll need to treat your ticket like a newborn baby and protect it at all costs. Make several copies of the ticket that you can use as proof for any lawyers or accountants you hire while you lock the physical ticket in a safe or safety deposit box.  

Be Careful Who You Tell. 

The best way to celebrate good news is with the people you love most. The temptation to immediately inform your family and friends about your good fortune will be overwhelming. However, you should be wary about who you let in on your newly created secret. There will be plenty of time for celebrating later. 

Don’t Quit Your Day Job. 

One of the highlights of winning the lottery is that you can finally tell your boss what you think and quit. There might come a day when you no longer need to work, but it’s best not to make any rash decisions just yet. A lot can happen with your lottery winnings, and there’s no reason to burn any bridges with your job until after you've crossed them.

Hire Legal and Financial Experts. 

You’re going to need a lot of help with adequately managing your lottery winnings. Large financial windfalls often come with hoops that you need to jump through carefully and landmines that you need to sidestep. At the very least, you’ll need to hire a tax lawyer, financial advisor, estate planning attorney, and certified accountants to help you properly navigate the situation. 

Remove Personal Information Social Media. 

Depending on the amount of money you’ve won, you might have your name spread across the world via headlines and social media posts. 

At a minimum, you can expect to become a local celebrity in your town or city. The problem with any type of fame is that it destroys your privacy. 

You won’t be able to remove personal details from the internet altogether, but you should try to remove your phone number, address, and email addresses from public access. 

If possible, you should consider changing this personal information to help protect the little privacy you’ll have as a lottery winner.

When You’re Meeting With Lottery Authorities

Request Anonymity If Possible

Each lottery jurisdiction has different rules and protections for winners. Some states (such as New York) require lottery winners' names to be listed on the public record. 

Other states (such as South Carolina) allow lottery winners to remain anonymous by request. You should speak with your legal team before you meet with the lottery authorities and discuss your options for remaining anonymous. 

Keeping your name out of the public record and media can go a long way toward protecting your privacy.

Decide On A Lump Sum Or Annuity Payments

Two payment methods are available for lottery winners: a lump sum payment or annuity payment. 

A lump sum payment is when you take the entire sum in one direct transaction. The transfer will be completed, and your business with the lottery commission will be concluded. 

Annuity payments are the opposite and are recurring payments that are transferred periodically. Common annuity payments include bi-weekly, monthly, and annually. 

The payments continue until the total sum of the winnings is paid out. 

After You’ve Received Your Money

Open Up A New Bank Account 

Whether you’ve opted for the lump sum or the annuity payments, you’re going to need a new place to store all of your money. The majority of traditional bank accounts can only insure up to around $250,000. If you’ve received more than that amount, you’ll need to open up a bank account to keep your money safe. Make sure to read the fine print and requirements for your new account so that you don’t get charged any fees.

Create A Budget

Winning the lottery is supposed to mean complete financial freedom and never having to worry about money again. While you might have won more money than you’ve ever dreamed of having, it’s not an infinite amount, and money can disappear quickly. 

Undisciplined spending is one of the fastest ways that lottery winners can end up going bankrupt and in financial ruin

Consult with your financial team and create a budget that will prevent this from happening to you. You’ll still be able to live luxuriously, but there will just be a limit to your spending.

Pay Off Any Debt

The first thing that you probably want to buy is probably an enormous mansion or a luxury car. Part of the fun of being rich is owning expensive things, right? 

Before you get to the fun purchases, there’s one crucial thing that you need to take care of first: debt. 

The average American has around $90,000 in debt via student loans, mortgages, medical bills, credit cards, car loans, or personal loans. 

If you can’t afford to pay off all of your debt at once, you should first prioritize the ones with the highest interest rates. You should refrain from any major purchases until you’re completely debt free.

Start An Emergency Fund. 

Being rich doesn’t exempt you from experiencing financial problems. No matter how much is in your bank account, there will always be a “rainy day” when you’re a little bit light on funds. 

Starting an emergency fund can help you to get through these times. You should set aside at least three to six months of expenses just in case. 

Remember that the more your standard of living costs increase, the more money you’ll need in your emergency fund.

Plan For Retirement

Winning the lottery will most likely mean that your retirement has already started, as you’ll never need to work again. While this may be true, you’ll still need to set aside some money for when you get older

You may need to stretch your winnings for several decades to cover your expenses. These expenses will include maintaining your lifestyle, paying your medical bills, and supporting your family while dealing with the effects of inflation. 

It’s never too early to start planning your retirement, so talk with your financial advisors about mutual funds, individual retirement accounts, or other low-risk investments. 

Diversify Your Investments

Since you will most likely never need to work again, you’ll need to put your money to work. One of the most effective ways to do that is to invest in low-risk stocks, real estate, and municipal bonds. 

The goal isn’t necessarily to make a ton of money (you’ve already done that) but to help your money to grow and cover the costs of inflation over time. 

You can even invest in non-traditional assets such as fine art, sports memorabilia, or cryptocurrencies as long as your financial team deems them low-risk. 

Diversifying your investment portfolio can prevent you from putting all your eggs into one basket and help you grow your funds over time.

Donate To Charity

Your life was forever changed whenever you purchased the winning lottery ticket. You’ll now have the opportunity to change other people’s lives by sharing some of your good fortunes. 

Thousands of different charities support good causes aimed at helping people and animals around the world. You can positively impact the world around you by giving away some of your money. 

Not only will you experience the good vibes and positive karma of doing the right thing, but there are also several financial benefits. 

You can deduct charitable expenses and donations from your income taxes, saving you a lot of money come tax time. 

There are some limitations, so be sure to consult with your financial advisors about how much to donate and when to do it.  

Establish An Estate Plan

The majority of Americans have no estate plan in mind for when they eventually pass on. Now that you’ve accumulated tremendous wealth, you’ll need to create an estate plan. Your assets' overall size and complexity will change dramatically with your wealth. 

You’ll need to set up trust accounts that can adequately protect these assets and coordinate their transfer to your loved ones when right. Without an estate plan, you’ll leave everything you own up for grabs. It’s the last thing you want your family to experience after you’ve passed.

Be Responsible While Enjoying Your Winnings

There are a lot of things that you’ll need to take care of after you’ve won the lottery. There is plenty of time for fun and relaxation, but you must cover all of the steps mentioned above. 

The last thing you want to do is fly too close to the sun with your winnings and fall back to earth. Make sure that you stay responsible with your spending and adequately prepare for your future.

One of the best ways to do that is to open a Yotta account and create an emergency fund.

The way that Yotta works is pretty simple. Based on how much you have in your account, you’ll receive many free tickets for each week’s drawing. The prizes you receive will depend on how many numbers match those on your tickets. If you match all six numbers, then you would win the $1 million jackpot.

You’ve already hit the lottery once. Why not see if lightning can strike twice with Yotta?

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