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What To Do if You Win the Lottery – Full Guide (+Financial Expert Tips)

Close your eyes and imagine you won a huge lottery jackpot. Feels nice, right? You want to get your hands on your lottery winnings as fast as possible. If it is a small win, you may want to reinvest it into more draws or buy something for yourself. But, what do you do if it is the jackpot prize?

We assume that you are ecstatic about the huge reward, and that’s perfectly fine. You have the right to be excited, but once everything settles, it’s important to do the right thing. That will ensure you secure yourself for years to come instead of being afraid of declaring bankruptcy despite that wealth.

Here is an expert guide on what to do if you win the lottery. These are the steps you should take from the moment you discover that you are the jackpot winner!

What Happens When You Win the Lottery?

  1. You find out that you predicted the exact winning numbers. That includes following the lottery until the draw has been held or checking the winning numbers on the site. Here is one of the best videos of a winner who discovered that over the phone.
  2. Learn how to claim the prize. There is a whole process to claiming lottery jackpots. It takes around 10 to 15 days for the lottery organizers to process your winnings. It would be best if you familiarized yourself with the lottery rules guiding the jackpot.
  3. Complete the process and receive the winning. Once you are ready to collect your jackpot, head to the lottery office and tender your winning ticket and proof of ID. Some games may require other documents, so you must do adequate research before going to the office. After completing the paperwork, you will receive your winnings.

The Top Statistics on What Happen to Lottery Winners After They Won

The statistics are impressive and reveal some interesting things. Here is the most intriguing information:

  • 69% of lottery winners agree to continue working.
  • Only 36% of lotto jackpot winners stay in the same house.
  • 76% of lucky players who won the jackpot confirm that they are happier than they used to be.
  • 90% of winners agree they lost at least some friends. Additionally, every third winner starts gaining weight and dealing with extra pounds.
  • Most winners buy a new house with their money. Only 10% purchase new cars, and even less an RV for touring the country. However, 83% spend a portion of money on their loved ones and family.

Important Note We collected the most shocking statistics about lottery winners here.

What Happened to the Most Famous Lottery Winners After They Won the Lottery?

A Jackpot win will definitely change your life. Many lottery winners have gone on to pursue their dreams and live comfortable lives. Their lives sure got interesting after winning the lottery. For example, Richard Lustig, a seven-time lottery winner, published a book on winning the lottery. He won severally, with the highest win of $842,000 in the Florida State Lotto. So he decided to share his knowledge of the lottery and lottery strategies. His book got massive publicity and was even featured on CNN.

Stefan Mandel has the most exciting story of all lottery winners. He employed the theories of mathematics to create a lottery strategy. He was successful and won 14 times. Today, he is a serial jackpot winner. He is now retired and living a comfortable life in his beach house in Vanuatu.

The lottery literally changed Marie Holmes’ life, but it is a pity she didn’t make the best of it. She struggled to make ends meet and raise four small children when she won the lottery. She moved from a trailer home to a five-bedroom apartment when she won. Ultimately, she squandered her winnings, paying millions to get her boyfriend out of prison.

We can see that some people went on to live comfortable lives after winning the lotteries. Others could have used their money more wisely. It depends on you and your spending habits. We advise that you make a solid financial plan and spend wisely.

What to Do Before Claiming Your Prize

Before we say anything, we strongly advise that you watch every lotto draw for which you purchased tickets. Many stories about lottery winners discover that they don’t always watch the draw live, which is why they find out about the jackpot days or weeks later.

It’s vital to confirm that you are the lotto winner as soon as possible. That’ll give you more time to prepare to claim your ticket before the deadline. Here is what you should do before claiming the reward.

1. Find Your Ticket and Keep It Safe

The initial step is to find where your ticket is. Now, this is something you should take care of even before the session. Players tend not to watch their tickets before the draw starts. That’s why we often forget it’s in our wallets or other jacket’s pockets. However, once we see our favorite numbers on the screen, we start panicking about where we left the ticket.

We strongly advise having a safe place to keep all your tickets. You never know when you might become the jackpot winner, and you need the ticket to claim the prize. Otherwise, you risk becoming one of those lottery winners whose tickets were never claimed. It takes minimal effort to put the lotto slip in your wallet or another safe place, so make sure to do it as soon as you buy it. You should consider getting a home lockbox or storing your tickets in a bank deposit box. If that is too much work, another alternative is to make paper and digital copies of your tickets and keep them in encrypted cloud storage or an external hard drive.

Another convenient option is to purchase tickets online. If you stick to the best lottery sites, you can buy tickets for dozens of worldwide lotteries in seconds. Additionally, all tickets remain in your virtual inbox, which means you can’t lose them. And if you win the jackpot, the lotto provider will contact you with details on how to claim your reward.

2. Keep Your Mouth Closed for Now!

We know that you can’t wait to tell everyone that you won the lottery. Sharing the wealth with your close ones and your family members is probably one of the things that went through your mind seconds after you won the reward. However, the experts suggest that you should keep your mouth shut at first.

That’s because you want the adrenaline to decrease, which will allow you to assess the situation realistically. If you share the news with your friends and even invite them to celebrate, you won’t have time to think about how to handle the reward. It’s crucial to have your peace in the first days after winning the lottery.

If you must share it with someone, don’t let it be more than a person or two. Perhaps you have a live-in partner or a family member, and you can consider sharing with them. However, consider that only if you trust them absolutely. Some people can’t contain information even if they promise to keep a secret. Therefore, it’s ideal not to tell anyone about the reward. There’ll be enough time for celebration – your initial task is to keep yourself protected.

3. Don’t Make Sudden Life Changes Immediately

What’s the first thing that would come to mind if you won the lottery? Lotto winners usually think “I’ll never work another day,” or “I’m moving to a new country and starting over tomorrow.” Those are all options that the huge loads of cash allow. However, you must not make any rash decisions or sudden life changes immediately.

First, you should understand claiming your prize is a process. It might take days or weeks, but during that time, you won’t have the money available. That might be for the best because it gives you time to think. If you’ve wanted to quit your job for a while, keep it for a few more days. The idea is to cool down your head and think clearly. If you think you are ready for a big life change, go for it. However, make sure to do that without rushing the decision.

4. Decide Whether to Stay Anonymous

Winning the lottery will bring a lot of attention to you. You will start getting hounded by reporters, journalists, and news houses. Your friends and even random strangers may want their share of the lottery winnings. It may be better to stay anonymous after winning the lottery jackpot. However, some states require lottery winners to reveal their identities to the public. This is how they prove that they are transparent and demonstrate that anybody can actually win the lottery.

If you cannot stay anonymous, consider moving to another zip code or town. Do not tell anyone why you are leaving until the news is everywhere. Only divulge that information to close friends and relatives. By doing this, you will protect yourself from receiving random monetary requests.

You could even further change your phone numbers, emails, and social media accounts. Remove your contact details from the internet or anywhere a random person can access them. It might be impossible to stay totally anonymous, but these actions will protect you from the public. Staying anonymous offers different benefits, including:

  • Safety: All eyes will be on you when you win the lottery. It is a great idea to hide information about your lottery win from the public. Staying anonymous will prevent the public from knowing that you have that kind of money in your possession.
  • Peace of mind: The lottery jackpot will attract people to you. Once someone knows you won millions of dollars, they will want to get closer to you. It may be because they need a loan or want a share of your prize. Staying anonymous will protect you from making friends with people who only want to be friends for your money.
  • No unwanted social media attention: If you don’t want to be in the news, you should consider staying anonymous. Everybody will want to know the lottery winner, and the media will be extra motivated to pry into your personal life. But you can avoid this when you stay anonymous.

5. Gather a Team of Professionals

A small number of people have millions of dollars piled up in their accounts. That’s what happens when you win a lotto jackpot, which is why you might be confused about how to handle the new situation. It’s where a team of professionals comes into play. It will be an expense, but one that will be worth it because you’ll navigate the entire situation better.

Here are the professionals you’ll need:

  • A lawyer – you’ll probably buy vehicles, properties, and other items when you become a jackpot owner. A lawyer can help to go through the papers and make sure everything is legal.
  • A tax specialist – if your attorney specializes in taxes and you trust them, you can hire them for handling the paperwork. You don’t want the IRS coming because you missed paying for taxes, so having an expert always helps.
  • Financial consultant – these advisors can assist in identifying the right investment opportunities. It’s not only about managing your wealth but looking for chances to increase it.

6. Calculate Your Prize and Decide on the Payment Option

You will need to decide how you want to receive your prize. The lottery organizers will have you choose whether you wish to collect a lump sum, which is the entire winnings at once, or annuity payments over several years. We advise you to make this decision before claiming your prize because it will help you (and your team) make wealth management and tax plans.

Both payout options have their pros and cons. The decision lies on you to choose which payment method works. You will need to consider them carefully to help you know which option might be the best for you.

What to Do After Claiming Your Prize

Congratulations on your big win. A lottery jackpot will undoubtedly change your life and help you to live comfortably from now on. However, you will need to act smartly to maximize your win. You could set aside a small sum to celebrate with your friends and family, but learning money management skills is imperative. You would want to avoid joining the list of people who squandered their lottery winnings and went back to square one.

Here are some things to do after claiming your lottery prize.

1. Meet with Your Team

Remember the team you hired before claiming your jackpot, the attorney, tax specialist, and financial advisor. It is time to put them to work. Meet with your team to help you find good ways to spend your money. They will help you to create financial decisions like buying real estate, setting up funds, and anything you want to do with the money.

2. Pay Your Debts

Since you are rich now, you should consider paying any debt you have. Maybe you took a loan from a friend or a bank loan for your studies. Whatever your debts are, you can clear your credit history and pay everything you owe. Doing this lets you spend the rest of your lottery winnings with peace of mind, knowing you are free from your debts.

3. Create an Emergency Fund

Financial experts advise keeping some prize money for emergencies or unpredictable events. It could be a health emergency or to sort yourself out in precarious situations. You can respond better to unplanned expenses when you have an emergency fund. However, you should only use it as a last resort – only use it when you have no other means of resolving the situation.

4. Establish a Retirement and College Fund Account

Some lottery winners quit their jobs immediately after getting their prizes. Others choose to stay working. Regardless of your decision, you will eventually retire, and when that time comes, you will want to enjoy your wealth as best as possible. You should set up a retirement account. Set sufficient money aside that you can only access when you retire. It will appreciate and protect your financial security in the long turn.

For instance, you can open a traditional individual retirement account (IRA) if you don’t already have one. These accounts are sheltered from income tax, and you can choose any investment platform, such as JP Morgans, M1 Finance, TD Ameritrade, and Ally Invest. If you opt for the annuity payment plan, you can set a yearly annual contribution into the account.

If you have kids, you could open a college fund for them. A college fund will ensure that there are adequate financial resources for your children to go to college when they are ready

5. Invest, but Be Careful

Invest and grow your wealth. You can’t depend on your lottery win for the rest of your life. You should invest a portion of your funds to secure a constant income stream.

Your financial team should create a list of options for you to invest your money. You could invest in shares and stocks. You may also invest in startups or partner with existing companies.

6. Don’t Forget Those Who Aren’t That Lucky

Unfortunately, many people need help in society. Consider the less privileged and those struggling to make ends meet. You could become a philanthropist to impact the world by creating a charity organization or investing in charity funds. Find a charity organization you relate to and help with their finances. You could also make your charity fund and do whatever you feel will help people. You could donate free books, provide meals in homeless shelters, or help wildlife conservation efforts.

7. It’s Crucial Not to Give Away Money for No Reason

Don’t waste money. It is one thing to help the needy and another to give away money without a good reason. This is why you should practice restraint – learn to say no to money requests. You should only help people who have a proven financial need.

8. Pursue Your Dreams

Winning the lottery could potentially mean that you don’t have to work anymore, as your finances are sorted for the rest of your lives. That means you can pursue your lifelong dreams and live comfortable lives. You could travel, take a break from the hustle and bustle of life, and enjoy what life has to offer.

What Do the Experts Say?

Is there anyone better to consult you on how to manage your jackpot win than those who have millions and financial experts? Those are people who know how to handle money, which is why you should listen to their words. Here are their crucial tips!

“It’s Not an Endless Pool of Money” – Suze Orman

Suze Orman
Source: Suze Orman

Suze Orman is the author of the famous podcast Women & Money, and the writer of the book of the same name. She is famous as an expert on personal finances, and she admits that finding the right investments for millions of dollars is a tricky business.

Orman advises taking the lump sum, but only if you have the guts to manage it without feeling guilty.

“You might have friends or family that make you feel personal guilt that you have so much wealth, and they don’t. If that’s an option, it might be better to choose installments.”

She also warns you shouldn’t go with a lump payment if you don’t feel experienced with money or life in general. The long-term option gives you an option to prevent yourself from spending all the winnings quickly.

“It’s incorrect that you’ll have an endless pool of money. You might run out of it, so if you don’t understand how the market or finances work – go for the annuity option,” says Orman.

“Play It Safely” – Kevin O’Leary

Kevin O'Leary
Source: Yahoo Finance
O’Leary is a famous Canadian investor who had both ups and downs in his career. He’s most famous as a participant of the business reality show Shark Tank, which is a huge hit in the United States. O’Leary recommends a different approach.

“You want to take the lump sum, but don’t waste it right away. Instead, make a deal with yourself for a yearly annuity. Use everything that remains for investments and utilize the money to increase your wealth.”

The investor says you should play it safe.

“You have the money that affords you to play it safe. It’s crucial not to waste that chance,” warns O’Leary.

“Beware of Taxes” – Elizabeth Glasgow

Elizabeth is a law graduate who specializes in working with clients that have a high net worth. She warns about the potential taxes that could arise from gifting large sums of money to family members.

“Any gift over $11.4 million is subject to 1% taxes. That means you could end up spending a hefty tax sum on a gift to your mom or sibling,” warns Glasgow.

As for the payment option, she says the crucial thing is to trust yourself.

“Can you manage so much wealth at once? Is it a better option to take a long-term payment and manage your affairs that way? You get a certain amount of financial freedom either way, which is why don’t want to spend the money too generously or quickly,” says this financial expert.

“Take Things Slow” – Farnoosh Torabi

Torabi is another podcast author, and her creation is the famous “So Money” program that shows insights on personal finances. According to Torabi, it’s crucial not to make rash decisions.

“The adrenaline will be at its highest during the first weeks or months. If your family and friends know about the win, they’ll probably offer their advice, which is not necessarily a good thing. That’s why it’s crucial to let some time pass to determine what’s truly the best thing to do with the money,” says Torabi.

It’s vital to note that your goal should be to utilize the full potential of your money. According to Torabi, that includes discussing things with your close ones, but also sitting down and thinking about what you want yourself.

“The main goal should be creating a life that will be more fulfilling and impactful. Finally, make sure those winnings last,” says Torabi.

He agrees that you shouldn’t reveal you won the lottery immediately.

“If you keep things as private as possible, it will ensure you have time to come up with the best possible plan and gather the right team of advisors.” 

“Enjoy Your Life” – Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban
Source: Inc Africa

The famous Dallas Mavericks owner earned a huge wealth with his smart investments. However, Cuban suggests you aren’t a wise investor just by winning the lottery.

“That’s why I’d advise against making investments. Go for the annuity option and enjoy getting your paycheck every year. You can live comfortably until the end of your life,” says Cuban.

According to the businessman, it’s a simple method that provides peace of mind.

“If you invest and make risky moves, you could lose all your money,” warns Cuban indicating that you shouldn’t push your luck.

FAQ About What to Do If You Win the Lottery?

How much time do you have to claim a lotto jackpot?

The time for claiming your prize depends on the lottery and the location. For example, various US jurisdictions might have different deadlines for the same lotto game. You can learn more in our article on how long it takes to get the money after winning the lottery.

Is it better to play online or offline?

The decision is up to you, but playing the lotto online has many benefits. You can play a wide range of worldwide lotteries on platforms like The Lotter, and tickets are available for purchase around the clock.

What’s the largest jackpot ever won on a lottery game? 

The largest jackpot ever won occurred on Powerball in January 2016. Three winners split the prize of $1.58 billion. As for the largest single win, a lucky winner took home $1.53 billion after winning the jackpot in MegaMillions in 2018. Our article on the biggest lottery wins mentions the highest rewards in different lotto games around the world.

What is the first thing you should do if you win the lottery?

The first thing to do is to find your ticket and keep it safe. If you played offline, you should sign on the paper to affirm your identity as the ticket owner. If you played through an online lottery site, the ticket will be secured in your lottery account. Afterward, hire a team of financial experts including a lawyer, tax specialist, and a consultant and decide which payment method you want.

What is the smart thing to do if you win the lottery? 

It is a great idea to keep the good news within family and friends; stay anonymous. We advise that you avoid making sudden life changes. Wait for the excitement to die down so you can think clearly about how you want to spend your money.

Where should you put your money if you win the lottery? 

First, you should pay any debts, then invest the remaining money in stocks and shares. Your lawyer, tax specialist, and financial consultant can help to find suitable investments that bring profit.

How long does it take to get the money when you win the lottery? 

It can take days or even weeks to collect your payment. The lottery organizers will need a little time to collect the proceeds from ticket sales so you can get paid. Use that time before you collect your winnings to think clearly and prepare for your life as a millionaire.

Final Thoughts – Try to Maintain a Healthy Mind and Body

Winning the lottery is a big thing, and big prizes will undoubtedly change your life. It’s up to you to ensure they adjust your life for the better. The experts advise trying your best to maintain a healthy mind and body. You can consider exercises and other physical activities, but also avoiding smoking, drinking, and other vices.

There’s plenty of time to decide how you’ll spend your money. That’s why it’s crucial to show patience and come up with the right strategy. You should listen to other people’s advice, but you don’t have to apply it. However, keep in mind that professional lawyers, financial advisors, and other specialists could help you to design the right plan for managing your new wealth.

What to Do Next?

Great, now you know what to do after you win the lottery, it’s time to try!

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