‘Congratulations, you’ve won millions of dollars!’ are words everyone dreams of hearing.
Most winners immediately start thinking about how to spend their massive lottery jackpot.
Houses, overseas holidays, luxury cars, elaborate gifts for family and friends, real estate, private jets, parties; it’s easy to get carried away, and unfortunately there are plenty of broke lottery winners.
Most winners don’t think they’ll ever run out of money, but even for people who win hundreds of millions, this isn’t always the case.
The Lottery Curse
While some people believe the ‘lottery curse’ is real, most cases of lottery winners filing for bankruptcy come down to bad financial management.
There are countless stories about ill-disciplined winners who ended up with nothing. Many weren’t prepared for the huge influx of money, and didn’t know how to handle it. As strange as it seems, some even wish they’d never won in the first place.
Jack Whittaker of West Virginia is one of them. He took home AUD$165 million after taxes in a 2002 US Powerball draw. Despite already being worth AUD$25 million before his win, he still couldn’t handle that much money and made a series of bad choices. These ultimately led to some tragic family events and he claimed to be broke in 2007, just 5 years after his win, saying,
"I think if you have something, there's always someone else that wants it. I wish I'd torn that ticket up."
But it doesn’t have to be this way. It’s really quite simple to avoid such a catastrophe. If you take your time to stop and plan carefully, there’s no reason why your money can’t easily last your whole lifetime (and even longer).
Here are The Lottery Office’s tips for keeping your money.
Shhh! Keep it quiet
One of the reasons why a lot people end up declaring bankruptcy is that they are publicly identified as a jackpot winner. This is a condition of accepting the prize in some jurisdictions. All sorts of people come out of the wood work to relieve lucky winners of their money.
All winners with The Lottery Office have the right to stay anonymous, so you have the opportunity to keep it as quiet as possible.
We strongly advise keeping news of your win to yourself and only tell your closest, most trusted friends or family. You may not be able to keep it a secret forever, but it's a good idea to buy yourself some time. That way, you can come up with a plan to minimise the fallout. Don't immediately draw attention to yourself by parking a Rolls Royce in your driveway!
It's also a good idea to not quit your job just yet. Quitting will immediately set tongues wagging! It's also a good way to keep some normality in your life while you mull over your options.
Hire a trusted team of advisors
Lottery winners go bankrupt because they don't know what they're doing. So hire some people that do! A good lawyer, accountant and financial advisor are a must to guide you through the pitfalls of sudden massive wealth.
Don't just automatically hire the first ones you see; shop around. Make sure you trust them and get a payment agreement in place that you're comfortable with.
How would you like your money?
Some lottery jackpots like US Powerball or US Mega Millions come with a choice as to how you'd like to receive your prize.
You may take the cash option, which is a one off lump sum payment. Alternatively, you may consider the annuity option. This is an initial payment followed by 29 annual payments to make up the balance of winnings.
Some people prefer the annuity option because it means all their money can't be blown in a short time. However this is no guarantee; William 'Bud' Post III selected the annuity option. A year after receiving his initial payment he was already more than half a million in debt!
Clear your debts
Paying your debts should be high on your to do list. Starting with a clean slate may be a smart move.
Make a plan
With your team's help, you should also make a plan for your money. Do you want to invest? Do you want to help your family? Your team will be able to guide you to maximise your win.
Make sure you're protected in the event that someone challenges you for your assets. Your advisors can help make this happen.
Make a will
Should something happen to you, your money should go where you want it to. Don't leave it up to chance and definitely don't rely on other people to enact your wishes.
Consider changing your details
Eventually people will probably find out about your windfall, and they may come knocking. Make it harder for them by keeping your details unlisted where possible. It might be a good idea to get an unlisted phone number, a second email address and start using a PO Box.
Pay it forward
With enough money to be comfortable for the rest of your days, why not give something back? You may even wish to cement your legacy through charitable works.
Learn to say 'No'!
It can be tough to resist throwing money at people who come to you looking for a handout. The reality is that you can't help everyone. Stick to your original plan and give to those that you genuinely want to help.
Don't become a broke lottery winner statistic
A winning lottery ticket can vastly improve your life; it shouldn’t be a burden, and it doesn’t have to be. With your plans all taken care of, you can relax and enjoy your new life with no worries!
To take your first steps to a better life, play one of the amazing lotteries The Lottery Office has to offer.