Finance

The record-high Mega Millions jackpot is worth nearly $1 billion – here are 3 things you should do if you win

Kevork Djansezian/Getty ImagesThe Mega Millions jackpot is offering its biggest prize ever: $970 million.
  • The Mega Millions jackpot is at a record-high ahead of Friday night’s drawing: $970 million, with a cash payout of $548 million.
  • The odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are slim, but what should you do if you win the Mega Millions?
  • If you have the winning numbers, don’t make any decisions in haste: Keep the news to yourself, hire a team of professionals to help, and don’t take the cash payout.

The Mega Millions jackpot is offering its biggest prize ever ahead of Friday night’s drawing: $970 million.
The odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are slim: 1 in 302,575,350. That’s a probability of .00000033%, according to Business Insider’s Andy Kiersz.
But such a dismal statistic isn’t preventing people from buying a Mega Millions ticket online or in store in hopes of landing the winning numbers – if they pick the right combination from the Mega Million number range, that is (five different numbers from 1 to 70 and one number from 1 to 25).
If you’re lucky enough end to beat the odds, you may be wondering what to do if you win the Mega Millions – these three actions are a must.

1. Don’t tell everyone

As excited as you may be to share the big news with everyone, it’s the last thing you should do.
“Once you’re announced as the winner, the sharks will start circling,” Kristen Euretig, financial planner and founder of Brooklyn Plans, previously told Business Insider.
With only six states allowing lottery winners anonymity, it can be difficult to keep the news private. However, you can do a few things to help make you harder to find, like deleting your social media accounts, leaving town for a few days, and setting up an LLC or trust so people can’t track you.
You can also refrain from announcing the big win, both publicly, like on social media or via television appearance, and in person – your coworkers, great aunt, and former classmates don’t need to know.

2. Get a lawyer and a financial planner

Don’t be one of the lottery winners who blow though all their winnings.
First things first, it’s in your best interest to hire a lawyer to help take care of any legal complications that come with winning the lottery.
And don’t even begin to think about how you’ll spend your winnings until you hire a financial planner to help you manage your jackpot – they can help you plan everything from investment options to saving for retirement, as well as deciding on what big purchases to make.
“It may seem like you have an infinite amount of money to work with, but before you understand the tax implications and options, it’s best to hold tight,” Euretig said.
A financial planner can also walk you through one of the most important decisions you’ll make after winning the Mega Millions: whether you should take the money as an annuity or as a lump sum.

3. Generally, don’t take the lump sum

Choosing the annuity option distributes the jackpot over 30 payments, which increase by 5% each year to keep up with the cost of living, certified financial planner Lauren Lyons Cole explained in a previous Business Insider article. The lump sum means taking the entire cash value at once, but it’s less than the value of the total jackpot – the cash payout for Mega Millions is currently $548 million.
While both yield staggering amounts of money, Lyons Cole advises making the more cautious choice and choosing the annuity. “Taking the annuity offers a degree of protection against blowing all your money in a short time – or being taken advantage of by a wayward financial adviser, family member, or friend,” she wrote.
However, if you’re very good with money and have a team of trusted advisers, a lump sum can offer greater potential for increasing your wealth if you smartly invest your winnings.
“But money is way more than math,” wrote Lyons Cole. “From an emotional and risk-management perspective, most people will have better long-term success in sustaining their newfound wealth by stretching out the winnings over time.”
And don’t forget – you’ll still have taxes to pay.
No matter what you do if you win the Mega Millions, be smart about your financial decisions and proceed slowly. The money isn’t going anywhere – unless you spend it all.
Source: Business Insider
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