- The Powerball winner just nabbed nearly $759 million (before taxes).
- Note to winner: Your first call should be to your attorney.
The Powerball winner nabbed a $758.7 million jackpot, the second-largest lottery prize in U.S. history and the largest payout ever awarded to a single ticket.
While the identity of whoever bought the ticket for Wednesday night's drawing at a store in Chicopee, Massachusetts, is still unknown, a few things should top his or her to-do list:
Make sure to sign the winning ticket and make several copies. If you are somehow separated from the ticket, your signature should help ensure you still get the prize. To avoid that separation in the first place, put the original in a protected place, like a safe deposit box.
Typically, lottery winners have three months to present their ticket. Before you decide to prove you've won, however, it's best to first enlist the help of a team of pros: an attorney (this should be your first call), a financial planner and an accountant. It's not uncommon for winners to face legal claims, sometimes from co-workers who either went in on a ticket or declined to — but now want a piece of the action.
It's best not to announce to the world that you've won. An attorney can help create a legal entity — i.e., a revocable trust or a family limited partnership — that protects your identity. If you can't avoid publicity (some states require publishing your identity), consider changing your phone number or living somewhere else temporarily to avoid media attention and sudden money requests from long-lost friends or relatives you never knew you had.
Figure out whether to take the lump sum or 30 allotments over 29 years. This decision is often made based on your tax situation. Either way, winning $750 million would put you in the highest tax bracket (currently 39.6 percent). This is when relying on the advice of pros (not family) makes sense.
Before spending a dime, think about what this sudden wealth means. Not only financially, but emotionally. Before giving in to the temptation to fill your driveway with multiple Teslas, give yourself time to process the magnitude of your win. This is often when winners begin to think about their legacy and what societal contributions they want to make. Some even set up their own charitable organizations.