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What to do if you win Mega Millions: 3 steps to take



Mega Millions
The Mega Millions jackpot
is offering its biggest prize ever: $970

Kevork Djansezian/Getty

  • 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
 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

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

Brooklyn Plans
, previously told Business

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

2. Get a lawyer and a financial planner

Don’t be one of the lottery winners who blow though all their

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
, 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

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

“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.

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