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If you’re lucky – as in really, really lucky – the $ 2 million ticket you own could be worth $ 430 million by Saturday.
This is the face value of the jackpot that goes into the Friday night drawing. Whether you want the prize as a three-decade annuity or a reduced flat fee of $ 291.1 million, it wouldn’t be as easy to exchange your ticket for the loot and get on with life as before.
“That amount is absolutely life changing,” said Walt Blenner, attorney and founder of the Blenner Law Group in Palm Harbor, Florida. “Everything in your life will change and there is no going back.”
If someone wins Friday night, the jackpot marks the eleventh largest in the history of the game. Two Mega Millions jackpots were won earlier this year: a $ 1.05 billion win on January 22nd that went to a group of players in Michigan and a $ 96 million prize that went to a New York couple won on February 16.
Here are some mistakes to avoid in order to make a smooth transition to extreme wealth.
Blenner recommends sharing the news only with your core family.
“Tell as few people as possible,” he said. “If it gets known, it spreads quickly.”
The ultimate goal should be to protect your identity as much as possible. Some states allow you to claim your award anonymously, while others may allow you to set up a trust or body to claim the money, which will keep your name out of the public eye.
Failure to do so could result in a hurricane of public attention that is not guaranteed to all pass or be innocent.
When representing the winner of a $ 451 million Mega Millions jackpot in 2018, Blenner had to emphasize the importance of disappearing before the public found out who 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.
Before making a claim, you’ll want to assemble a team of seasoned professionals, including a lawyer, accountant, and financial advisor, Blenner said.
“You absolutely need a team around you,” he said.
For example, there may be ways to minimize your tax burden. While 24% of large lottery winnings are withheld for federal taxes, the highest marginal rate of 37% means you would owe a lot more.
For this Mega Millions jackpot, withholding the $ 291.1 million flat option would result in nearly $ 69.9 million being shaved off the top. There are also typically state taxes that may be withheld or due at tax time.
Someone on the team should also serve as the gatekeeper. That means they can answer queries from moochers or scammers, or from anyone else fishing for a piece of your luck.
It’s worth noting that most people never have to worry about these things. The chance that a single ticket will hit all six numbers drawn in Mega Millions is 1 in 302 million. For Powerball – whose jackpot for the Saturday night draw is $ 183 million – your chance of winning the grand prize is a little better: 1 in 292 million.