There is now almost half a billion dollars in the Mega Millions jackpot.
With no ticket matching all six numbers drawn on Tuesday, the game’s grand prize for the Friday night draw rose to $ 490 million. Powerball’s jackpot isn’t far behind: $ 410 million for the Wednesday night draw.
If you were dreaming about how you would take advantage of a godsend of this magnitude, whether to buy yourself high-ticket items or to fund a charity (or both), you should be aware that winning isn’t as easy as that Claim money and move on with your life.
“Your old life is over,” said Walt Blenner, attorney and founder of the Blenner Law Group in Palm Harbor, Florida. “You can’t go back.”
For the $ 490 million Mega Millions jackpot, the cash option that most winners choose instead of an annuity is $ 372.3 million. For the $ 410 million Powerball prize, it’s $ 316.4 million.
Aside from the financial aspect of the windfall – which includes things like taxes, investments, and estate planning – there are a few other problems big lottery winners can face, sometimes before they even claim their prize.
“On the one hand it is a fantastic experience, on the other hand there may be necessary changes that can cause fear,” said Blenner.
Depending on which state you bought the ticket in, you may not be able to remain anonymous, creating a whirlwind of public attention – all of which are not guaranteed to pass or be innocent. Even if you can protect your identity, it’s possible that the word could come out one way or another that you were (or could be) the winner, Blenner said.
When he represented the winner of a $ 451 million Mega Millions jackpot in 2018 – then 20-year-old Shane Missler – Blenner Missler and his family had to impose the importance of disappearing before the public found out who had won (in Florida Lottery) winners cannot remain anonymous).
They hesitated, so he informed them that ransom and kidnapping insurance was available. That got through to them and they rented a house 20 miles away under a pseudonym.
“It took me a while to get them to assess the potential danger they would be in if they stayed in their home,” said Blenner.
Even winning the lottery ticket to lottery headquarters was done for security reasons: Blenner and Missler took a private jet to Tallahassee, and lottery officials met them on the tarmac to get the ticket.
If you come to extreme wealth through the lottery, it usually makes sense to quit your job, Blenner said.
“You don’t need that income, and a job would dictate exactly where you are, which could be a bigger security risk,” he said.
After Missler’s jackpot win of $ 451 million, Blenner was contacted by total strangers.
“I received emails, letters and phone calls for almost six months,” he said.
The messages came from a variety of people: from those who wanted to sell something (i.e. real estate, a private jet), from investment advisors who wanted to manage the money, and from those who had financial problems and needed help.
Whether or not you can remain anonymous, the actual spending of the money could reveal your newfound wealth.
This means that if others believe you have deep pockets, it is more likely to make false claims against you. For example, someone might purposely crash into your car hoping to collect, Blenner said.
“When it comes to extreme wealth, you are a prime candidate for something like this,” said Blenner.
He said it was important to have insurance to protect yourself against such potential claims.