Investing

12 Things Not to Do If You Win the Lottery

It seems that the American Dream is now winning the lottery rather than just working your way to riches. After all, you can pay a few bucks here and there for the chance to become a millionaire without having to work for it. Winning the lottery is of course a far different matter than just playing the lottery. Updated for record January: Lottery jackpots have grown and grown. The $400 million Powerball rose to an $800 million Powerball, a new U.S. record!  And a $100 million MegaMillions drawing rose to $165 million before being won — for nearly $1 billion in total pre-tax cash winnings up for grabs for potential lottery winners.

This is empire building money. Unfortunately, many empires built by lotteries can become as elusive as the fate of Atlantis. Many lottery winners end up broke in just a few years. Some lottery winners have even been killed over having won. There are many things that a lottery winner can do, and many things that lottery winners should absolutely not do, after winning the lottery.

Now the Powerball lottery is up to $400 million (then $800 million). As there were no jackpot winners for Saturday’s drawing, the next drawing will be on Wednesday, January 6, 2016.

The MegaMillions lottery was $104 million around Christmas, but the absence of a winner with all the lucky numbers now has that drawing up to a cash value of $145 million (then $165 million).


24/7 Wall St. has created a list of 12 things not to do if you ever are lucky enough to win the lottery. Again, ending up in the poor house after winning tens of millions or hundreds of millions just is not good. Those people have to be the brunt of every family joke for a few generations.

Some people actually choose the lottery annuity payment rather than taking a lower lump-sum payment. Some lottery winners give most of their winnings away or buy too many new things for themselves, friends and family. Could you imagine winning $50 million or $100 million and then being broke?

Many lists have been directed at newly rich lottery winners, but it is surprising how few warnings are out there for lottery winners. Sometimes people need to know what they really shouldn’t do, particularly since so many lottery winners are likely to think that their new vast money will make them the smartest people in the room.

Lottery winners can become marked targets or make instant enemies. Spending $30 million in 30 days in “Brewster’s Millions” from the 1980s might have seemed difficult at the time, but that can now be accomplished in days or even hours.

Here are the 12 things not to do if you win the lottery.