For 53-year-old Mavis Wanczyk, the newly minted winner of Wednesday night's $758.7 million Powerball jackpot drawing, life is about to get crazy. And that might be putting it mildly.
"She better get ready. She's going to be hit up for investment opportunities, charity requests, even people she knows are going to come to her," said Jason Kurland, an attorney at Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman, a law firm in East Meadow, New York.
"She has an insane amount of money now."
Wanczyk's lucky windfall — the odds of matching all six numbers is 1 in 292.2 million — marks the largest win on a single ticket in U.S. history. Almost 10 million additional tickets won prizes totaling more than $135 million.
Although Massachusetts law requires lottery winners to be made public, some recipients in the past have created a trust and had a trustee accept the winnings to protect their anonymity.
By choosing to come forward so quickly — the state allows lottery winners a full year to claim their winnings — Wanczyk, of Chicopee, Massachusetts, has already made what many experts would call a mistake by not protecting her identity.
Kurland said the best thing she can do at this point is immediately hire an attorney who can shield her as much as possible from the onslaught of attention she's in for from money-seekers.
"Her life will be much easier if she can hide behind someone else, so to speak, when she gets all these calls and questions," Kurland said.
There also are a few other things she needs to do, he said. For one, because she chose the $480.5 million lump sum instead of 30 payments over 29 years, she should alert her financial institution that it's about to get a deposit of hundreds of millions of dollars.
She also needs to set up a team of professionals, which would include a financial advisor and accountant in addition to an attorney, to help guide her through the steps necessary to protect her wealth. Even estate planning — putting a will and other documents in place to ensure that if something unfortunate happens to her tomorrow, her wealth is protected — needs to be on her radar screen immediately.
"She's now one of the world's wealthiest people and she has to start acting like it," Kurland said.