With Over $250 Million in Labor Day Lotteries, 12 Things Not to Do If You Win

September 2, 2016 by Jon C. Ogg

Lottery
Source: Thinkstock
Labor Day weekend is going to be a big one for lottery players in 2016. These might not be record-breaking lotteries, but this weekend’s news flow may have more to deal with than Hurricane Hermine. There are two lotteries with a combined jackpot north of $250 million.

Friday’s drawing will be the Mega Millions lottery, with an estimated annuity value of $92 million. Then comes Saturday’s Powerball lottery, with a $170 million annuity value. Even if you consider that the discounting gets factored in on the lump sum values, the Powerball has a $118.1 million lump sum value and the Mega Millions has a $63 million lump sum estimated value.

What matters here is that both lotteries are likely to create multi-generational empire money. The harsh reality is that it is just too easy to blow a fortune these days. That is why 24/7 Wall St. has created 12 things not to do if you win the lottery.

Before you think it is silly that you could go broke after winning the lottery, consider that many new lottery millionaires have gone broke. Some have even gone broke in a relatively short time.

Many things need to be considered here. Some of these won’t be pleasant. Is it fair that the rich actually need a budget like the rest of us? Can’t a lotto winner now afford all the flashy cars and houses they want? Can’t they afford to take all their friends and families along for the ride? Can’t the rich get away with whatever they want if they just throw money at any problem? If you think these are not real issues, please understand that if you win the lottery the odds are very high you could be among the lottery winners who end up broke.

Most lottery winners take the lump sum option. After all, this is instant millionaire money. Most lottery winners also have severe lifestyle changes. They can now afford to buy more things than they ever would have imagined they wanted. And the reality is that there are just too many temptations to pass up.

Again, if you think this sounds silly then you are at risk of going broke if you become filthy rich overnight. 24/7 Wall St. does not want to see that happen to anyone. You should only have to become rich once.

It seems that the new American Dream is winning the lottery. Becoming filthy rich overnight even sounds better than a life of hard work, savings and being responsible. And the lottery takes away from everyone telling you how hard it is to get ahead and to succeed in life these days. Just do not ever forget that sudden and extreme wealth brings the need for sudden and extreme responsibility.

I'm interested in the Newsletter
 

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

1. Do not forget to sign the winning ticket (nor forget to report it).

This may sound silly, but it’s serious. Does it seem impossible to think that some people might not sign a winning lottery ticket? Or what about not reporting that they won? Imagine if you have the winning ticket and it gets lost or stolen — or burns up in a house fire! Endless millions of lottery dollars have gone unclaimed from lottery winners over the years. One of the recent lottery winners took weeks and weeks to report that they were the winners (reportedly to get their lives and plans in order).

Some people somehow manage to not report to the state that they won. Now imagine how you would feel if you lost a winning lottery ticket. Or what about if someone else takes your winning ticket and then shows up to collect the prize? Fighting over a winning lottery ticket is no simple task and disputes have arisen over who owns what ticket.

In a way, lottery tickets have effectively become the last form of bearer bonds that anyone can collect on if they show up with the coupons and bonds. You have to sign and secure that ticket, and you then have to report to the state.

2. Do not dare go brag about winning the lotto!

If you just won tens of millions of dollars or hundreds of millions of dollars, it seems logical that one of the first impulses would probably be to go tell everyone you know. After all, how could you not want to tell your friends and family? Do not do this! Keep as quiet as you can. Your friends or family members probably cannot be trusted to keep your life-changing secret a secret.

Telling everyone you know before you collect your winning can put you in danger, and in more ways than just one. Everyone who has ever done anything for you now may come with their hands out asking for something. You may even become a target.

You may have heard of kidnap and ransom insurance before. It is also sad to report that some lottery winners became murder victims, and for far less than the massive empire-building jackpots. If you can manage it, and if your state allows it, try to remain anonymous for as long as possible. How you became vastly wealthy will be found out in time anyway, but there is no need to hurry that along and jeopardizing yourself.

3. Do not automatically take the lump sum cash option without consideration.

Most winners are going to choose a lump sum payment. If you can take millions spread out over 20 years, or take millions all now – most people go for the short-term boost. It is important to consider that the media’s most commonly used figure is that close to 70% of lottery winners end up broke again. Some of the newly rich even manage to go broke within just a couple or a few years. Let’s say that you can choose to get $270 million in a lump sum payment, do you know for sure without consideration that is a better choice than receiving a payout of $361 million slowly over the course of a lifetime. Again most people choose the lump sum rather than the annuity payment as it is instant empire-making money.

Go see a reputable and visible tax professional and a reputable investment advisor at a top money management firm with a widely recognized company name and a long corporate history. This theme of “reputable and visible” will echo throughout. Do this before you automatically make the decision about a lump-sum or annuity option.

4. Do not think you are suddenly the smartest person about high finance.

Whether this is fair or unfair, most people know very little about the world of high finance. Lottery winners and other people who become filthy rich overnight need to line up immediate outside financial advice. Not next week or next month — now! If you have been living paycheck to paycheck before the lottery, does it seem possible that you now suddenly know the best things to invest in? How likely is it that you will immediately know the best tax and asset protection strategies?

There are many ways to invest and to protect that new fortune. Strategies of the extremely wealthy often go way beyond just buying stocks and bonds and letting those investments ride. As far as who to use, or who not to use, chances are very high that your drinking buddy might not be the best choice as an advisor and expert.

Having a solid and respectable team of financial advisors and managers from reputable firms will act as your buffer to protect your assets now and in the future. Do you know how to protect your assets against all threats and know exactly how to protect your estate in case you die or become incapacitated? Here is a very real hint: If you answered yes, you probably did not bother playing the lottery.

5. Do not let your old life’s obligations and debts remain in place.

If you are like the rest of the population, you probably have some debt and have financial obligations. Do not let the woes of your old life carry forward if you become filthy rich in an instant. If you suddenly become wealthy, get rid of your old financial obligations and debts — and do it now! If you think that “I’m rich and don’t have to pay anymore” might be a fun way to live your life, you are already well on your way to wrecking your new life. Whether you take the lump-sum or the annuity option, if you have a single penny of debt in the immediate future and distant future, then something is seriously wrong with you. For that matter, you should not have a single debt ever again!

One lottery winner in California was reportedly strapped with debt from property purchases. Does that sound stupid, or what?

Now imagine if you manage to go broke down the road and still somehow have a mortgage, car payments, student loans, credit card debt and personal bills. Do you think for an instant that your friends and family members will not ridicule you every day for the rest of your life?

6. Do not live the big life, at least not way too big.

You can spend as much money as you want. That is the misconception that many people who never had real money have when they become rich overnight. Thinking this way will wipe you and your assets out. There are many temptations awaiting those with what seem like endless avenues of riches. If you go from living a simple life to instantly being able to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more) per week, what do you think happens to your expectations in life ahead? Chances are high that you will want more of the same.

If you start gambling in Las Vegas and are not happy until you are gambling with hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more) per play, you are dooming yourself. Now just wait until the real con men find you. Taking you and your favorite 500 people on a luxury cruise around the world can become very expensive, very fast. Having an entourage generally only works for people who keep making more and more money – and they usually end up broke for that cost.

7. Don’t run out and buy everything for everyone (not even for yourself).

Many people have at least a mental list of things they say they would like to own if money was no barrier. Buying nice things can be fun. It can even create a rush for some people. Now imagine getting to buy whatever your imagination can think of: Rolls Royce, Jaguar, Range Rover … mansions, fur coats, private planes, islands. Now, let’s take a breather for a moment.

Society and the endless commercials often trick people into thinking that they need to own endless amounts of new things. It’s just stuff! Do not go out and buy dozens of cars. Do not go buy multiple houses. Do not run out and buy things endlessly for friends and family members (nor for yourself). This will put you on a bad path if you do not avoid the impulse buying. Do you really want to be your friends and family personal welfare department?

If you start buying everything for everyone, chances are high that they might expect that to last forever. The other end of the story is that you do not have to be a cheapskate either. Still, after hearing a real life personal story of one lucky winner buying more than 30 cars and multiple houses in three months it is just crazy.

8. Do not think that budgets are not just for the poor or the middle class.

Even billionaires know that they have financial limitations. The self-made billionaires for a reason, and the families that inherit it try to do what they can to maintain it. Maybe it sounds silly that you might need a budget and might need to consider limitations if you have $50 million, $100 million, or $200 million to burn through. The reality is that creating a budget and sticking to that budget are not just menial tasks for the poor and the middle class.

The truth is that those who are very wealthy, at least those who stay that way, know that a vast fortune can literally vaporize if not handled properly. Major lottery winners generally become wealthier in an instant than everyone else they know combined. This also goes back to having advisors and being prudent, but at the end of the day you do still have a finite sum of money. Chances are very high that you will make some serious purchases and your lifestyle will be changed forever.

Not learning your limits and not setting limits for yourself will lead to a personal disaster. Again, many lottery winners go broke. If they went broke in a very short time, what do you think the reflection about wishing for a proper budget would be? In short: Do not think you don’t need a budget!

9. Do not become the big business backer for all your friends and family.

Get ready to start saying “No!” to friends and family if you become rich overnight. Chances are high that many friends or family will be coming to ask you for cash or to back their latest “million-dollar idea.” If you knew little about money or finance yesterday, did you wake up and suddenly understand venture capital or merchant banking just because your bank account grew massively?

It may sound powerful and enticing to be sought after by everyone but do not dare allow yourself to fall into this trap. One common theme that has come up with lottery winners who suddenly get vast sums of cash is that their friends and family start pitching them on endless business ideas. Sure, some will sound great and some will sound crazy. This could expose you to more than just a loss. You could end up with endless liabilities in some cases.

If someone has no knowledge of a particular business and does not know what it takes to actually run a business, will they do better because a lottery winner who lucked into vast wealth gave them money to start it? If your answer is yes, you seriously need to protect yourself (from yourself).

10. Do not dare give your fortune away — you might need it!

Many lottery winners and many who become filthy rich allow themselves to be tricked into thinking that they should give away or share all that new money with society. Maybe it is a church or a charity. Maybe it is the children in poor nations. It probably seems like a nice effort to give away vast amounts of cash to charity or to religious institutions. And maybe it sounds mean that someone would tell you not to share it all.

Giving away an entire fortune or a large part of it to a charity or to religious institutions needs to be given great consideration. You can be generous without giving it all away. Rather than giving everything away now, the current charitable theme of the extremely rich is to plan for how their estate will distribute their money and assets upon their death, and while still often leaving something for their heirs.

Imagine what you will feel like down the road when a serious crisis arises in your life or your family’s life, knowing that you no longer had the means to change it. This new money will give you a chance to be very charitable. You should be charitable. Just do not dare give a fortune away all at once.

11. Do not start envying the rich athletes and celebrities.

Many movie stars, entertainers, and athletes live a life of extreme luxury. It may even be almost too hard to imagine (almost). Lottery money gives a winner the chance to live like the lucky few, and comes with pitfalls that can make them go broke. Keeping up with the Joneses is bad enough. Trying to keep up with the Kardashians or other celebrities is a recipe for disaster. It has to seem cool to own a 200-foot yacht. It may seem practical that certain celebrities have an entourage, or to have a film crew following you around. It may seem cool owning castles in Europe. Owning an original Picasso painting sure sounds impressive.

Having a big new private jet makes sense for a lot of people. Trying to dodge taxes might even sound appealing to misguided people. Now go add up the price tags of these things, plus the cool cars and houses and the rest of it. You can go broke really quickly. Just ask actors and athletes who did this how they feel now.

I'm interested in the Newsletter
 

12. Do not think that laws or decency standards are history.

Some people think the rich can do whatever they want without consequences. It is true that the wealthier you get, the more high-class trouble you can find. It is also true that the rich can afford better attorneys and legal defense then the rest of us. Still, living a reckless life without concerns about the law will not keep you from going to prison, or worse. A good sports coach will tell any star athlete upfront that chances are high they will have to be human for far longer than they are going to stars.

It is quite frequent that movies and television shows glamorize scoundrels. The reality in life is that fictional scoundrels would be scoundrels in real life. What good would it do you if you are incredibly wealthy and such a pariah that no one will associate with you? Remember, you don’t get to take any of your wealth with you.