As Powerball Lottery Hits $151 Million, 12 Things Not to Do If You Win

October 21, 2016 by Jon C. Ogg

The Powerball jackpot has quietly risen to $151 million, and the drawing is set for Saturday, October 22, 2016. While this $151 million is an annuity value, the discounted cash value is still a whopping $100.5 million. Even after the winner backs out the taxes, this is instant empire-making money.

Winning the lottery has become the new American Dream. After all, you get instantly rich beyond your dreams, and certainly beyond whatever business idea you can probably succeed with. And what’s great about the lottery is that all you need is luck. Besides that, the media and the politicians keep telling the public that it’s just too hard to get ahead and live well these days.

Lucky lottery winners better have some serious plans in place if they win. Most importantly, those lucky few better know exactly what not to do.

Winning $151 million over a lifetime or winning $100.5 million almost certainly will provide multi-generational wealth. There’s just one catch: many lottery winners and many who become instantly wealthy go broke, and many do it in short order. The Powerball lottery winner is going to need to exercise extreme responsibility.

24/7 Wall St. has created the 12 Things Not to Do If You Win the Lottery. Most people choose to take the cash lump-sum option rather than the annuity payout. This will end up being more money than most people can imagine even thinking about how to handle.

There are endless pitfalls for lottery winners and those who suddenly become filthy rich. Temptations are endless, and it might seem like there are no limits. Many people blow off the classic warnings and their temptations get the best of them.

Lottery winners need to know that these days it is simple to blow through $50 million, $100 million or even $500 million. Without a serious plan, this vast sum can vanish.

Relationships and friendships likely will be tested by instant and vast wealth. Keep it as quiet as you can. Getting financial advice and tax advice are a must. So is living on a budget. If these points sound silly, you need to understand you are already on the path that could make you go broke.

Having an entourage may sound cool, but what do they cost? What about the private jets and yachts, or mega-mansions? Luxury sports cars and jewelry all add up too. And why not have a private island? These are all incredibly expensive and they all require more money ahead to support and protect.

Hopefully reality is setting in here. The entire point behind the 12 Things Not to Do If You Win the Lottery is to keep anyone who becomes suddenly wealthy from going broke. 24/7 Wall St. does not want to see anyone become incredibly wealthy and then go broke.

Remember this and do not dare forget it: You should only have to become rich once!

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

1. Do not forget to sign and report the ticket.

This may sound impossible, but some people might not sign a winning lottery ticket. Also impossible to understand is that a winner might not report that they are the winner to the state. Imagine if you have the winning ticket and it gets lost or stolen. Or imagine if your ticket burned in a house fire. Endless millions of lottery dollars have somehow gone unclaimed.

Imagine how you would feel if you lost a winning lottery ticket. Or what about if someone else steals 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. Generally speaking, the state recognizes the winner as the one who reports it and shows up with that winning ticket.

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

2. Do not decide to take the lump sum cash option without consideration.

If you can choose a life of payouts of millions per year or a monster lump sum in the hundreds of millions of dollars, most people prefer a lump sum rather than getting money sent out over a lifetime. A figure that is frequently used is that around 70% of lottery winners and those who unexpectedly come into wealth end up broke again. Some of them even manage to go broke within a couple or a few years.

Let’s say that you can choose to get $100.5 million in a lump sum payment, do you know for sure without consideration that is a better choice than receiving a payout of $151 million slowly over the course of a lifetime. Again most people choose the lump sum rather than the annuity payment. After all, 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.

3. Do not dare brag and tell everyone you won the lotto.

If you just won tens of millions of dollars or hundreds of millions of dollars, one of the first impulses would probably be to go tell everyone you know. How could you not? Listen quite closely here — Do not do this! Keep as quiet as you can. Your life depends upon this, and that is no exaggeration. The sad reality is that your friends or family members cannot be trusted to keep your secret a secret.

Telling everyone you know before you collect your winnings 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.

Have you ever 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.

4. Do not think you suddenly are a master of money and high finance.

Lottery winners, and those who come into unexpected vast sums of cash, need to immediately get outside financial advice. If you are living paycheck to paycheck before the lottery, does it seem logical that you 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 forget about your current debt and obligations.

If you suddenly become filthy rich, get rid of your old financial obligations and debts immediately. If you feel like “I’m rich and don’t have to pay anymore,” you are already deep into the path of dooming yourself. 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. 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.

If you manage to go broke down the road and still have a mortgage, car payments, student loans, credit card debt and personal bills, all of your friends and family members should get to spank or ridicule you every day for the rest of your life.

6. Do not jump into living the big life too big.

Temptation to keep buying or accumulating can wipe you out. 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. Do not run out and buy everything for yourself and others.

Everyone probably has a list of things they would love to own. Buying nice things is fun. It can even create a rush for some people. Now imagine getting to buy whatever your imagination can think of. Now take a breath for a second.

Society and the endless commercials trick the public into thinking they need to own endless amounts of 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 you no longer need a budget.

This may seem silly on the surface that you might need a budget and might need to consider limitations. The harsh reality is that creating a budget and actually living on a budget are not just tasks for the poor and the middle class. The very wealthy, at least those who stay that way, know that even a vast sum of money can vaporize. Major lottery winners generally become wealthier in an instant than everyone 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.

Without setting limits for yourself and for what you do with others is a recipe for 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 your friends’ and family’s business backer.

Being in venture capital or private equity might sound enticing. If you knew little about money or finance yesterday, what makes you think you will understand venture capital or merchant banking now? It may sound powerful. Do not 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 give your fortune away immediately.

One thing that has hurt those who come into instant wealth is falling into a trap thinking that they need to immediately share their newfound wealth for the greater good. It actually sounds quite nice to give away vast amounts of cash to charity or to religious institutions. This might not be the case for everyone, but giving away an entire fortune or a large part of it to your religious institution or charity needs to be given great consideration. You can be generous without doing the unthinkable. Rather than giving everything away now, the charitable trend of the extremely rich now is to plan for how to give the money away upon their death, while still often leaving some 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. Should you be charitable? Absolutely! Should you give it all away? Absolutely not!

11. Do not dare get athlete envy or celebrity envy.

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.

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12. Don’t think that laws or decency standards no longer matter.

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.