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Winning or Losing? | Ariana Thompson

With the Powerball jackpot soaring to 1.2 billion dollars, I’m sure a lot of people have prize money on their mind. You might have even wondered what you would do if you won the billion dollar prize. But what should you really do if you win?


You might think that winning the lottery is a dream come true, but often it's more like a nightmare. Lottery winners often end up worse than they started out - bad investments, mooching hanger-ons, and even murder have ruined the lives of those thought lucky enough to win the jackpot. “I'd have been better off broke… I thought all these people were my friends, but then I realized all they want is just money.", said Florida Lottery winner and murder victim, Abraham Shakespeare.


(Also, while the majority of high schoolers aren't going to have a shot at this particular powerball, it never hurts to be prepared!)


Your first step is: Be Quiet! If your state allows you to collect your winnings anonymously, do so. One of the biggest problems winners have reported in their post-lottery lives is their lack of privacy. Unless you want to be harassed for the rest of your life by distant relatives and middle school acquaintances, you’ll be wise to be selective with who you share your good fortune with. Additionally, you’re going to want to wait a couple of weeks before you pick up your winnings, especially if you’ve won a sum as large as today’s powerball. Letting the story die down before you collect will draw attention away from your identity.


The next thing you’ll want to do is hire a tax attorney and a financial advisor. Tax attorneys will help you manage the taxing of your newly acquired estate and financial advisors will help you build your wealth and work in your best interest. Both are going to be very useful for the economically unsavvy.


Another question you might be struggling with is Lump sum vs. annual payout. Winners who choose to take the lump sum receive all of their winnings at once after it’s taxed by the government, while annual winners receive their winnings in a series of payments. Your preference might depend on your circumstances. If you’re older, then choosing a lump sum can ensure that you receive all of your winnings before you pass. Additionally, if you feel that tax rates are going to go up in the future, you can get your money for a better tax rate. Generally though, it can be unwise to go for the lump sum. It might be overwhelming to receive such a sudden influx of cash and you receive less money than you would otherwise. Plus, you cheat yourself out of getting guaranteed income for the rest of your life. If you’re aiming for sustainability, you might be better off getting an annual payout.


After you have this in order, the rest of the process is simple. You might want to change your phone-number and address after you’ve received your money and go fully off the grid. After that feel free to do as you like. Congrats! You have (in theory) won the lottery!


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