what to do if you win the lottery

Lottery Winners Guide: What to Do if You Win the Lottery

5 steps to take if you win a big lotto prize

Could you be the winner of a record Mega Millions jackpot? Past and future winners: you're gonna wanna read these tips for things to do if you win the lottery.

The moment you’ve always dreamed about has come true—you’ve won the lottery, and you’ve won BIG. Once you’ve seen those winning numbers flash before your eyes, the biggest question of what to do if you win the lottery is “Now what?”

Step 1: Sign your ticket

With Jackpocket, if your lottery prize is above the threshold amount for your state, we securely transfer your physical ticket to you so that you can claim your prize from the state lottery. Sign the back of your lottery ticket as soon as you have it in your hands. If you drop it, lose it or accidentally let it fall out of your wallet when you’re reaching for a credit card, it becomes easy for someone else to claim. Rather than carrying the ticket around, store it in a safe place like a lockable drawer or fireproof safe until you can get to the lottery commission to claim your prize.

Another tip for what to do if you’ve won the lottery is to find out from your state’s lottery website how long you have to claim your prize. This varies by state and can be anywhere from 60 days to one year. This is important because missing this deadline means forfeiture of your winnings. You want to make sure you get your winnings within the allotted time frame but have the opportunity to make an informed decision about how to claim your prize.

>> Winner winner chicken dinner: Meet real 2024 Jackpocket lottery winners

Step 2: Think about your privacy

What should you do if you’ve won the lottery? Consider your privacyYou’re excited about your big winnings and likely want to shout it from the rooftops. Don’t do this. Once the news spreads that you’ve won, not only will friends and family be badgering you, charities, financial advisors, and more will be reaching out to you. A good rule of thumb: Tell your immediate family first and have them keep it quiet until you are ready to spread the word. If you really don’t want the details of your win out in the world, you may consider hiring a firm to potentially scrub your information from the internet and monitor what is said about you to avoid misinformation

>> Check out our guide: Lottery winners can stay anonymous in these states

Step 3: Talk to the professionals

Before you claim your prize, you will want to talk to financial advisors, lawyers and accountants to understand how to best deal with your winnings. They will come up with things you likely won’t think of as you are excitedly putting together your game plan (like maybe investing for your own future). They can help you crunch the numbers and decide if you would like to take the prize money as a one-time cash payment or as annual payments over time (the important lump sum vs annuity question). 

Involving a financial planner is important, as they will help you analyze each option and determine what will give you the most money in the long run. If you take the lump sum and you and your team plan carefully, you could grow your winnings to more than you would have gotten from the annuity payments. If you think there is a high risk of overspending, taking the annuity payments may be a better option for you.

Lawyers can help set up trusts and estate plans, and financial planners set up investment accounts so you’re ready to distribute your money and invest for the future appropriately. They will be imperative when deciding what to do if you win the lottery. Accountants help maximize your income and minimize your tax burden to the fullest extent possible.

>> Learn more: How lottery winnings are taxed by state.

Step 4: Finalize your plan

Now that you’ve talked to the professionals and understand the different avenues for your financial future, you can cement your plan. Your plan will go beyond deciding to accept your prize in a lump sum or annuity and will need to include factors like estate planning, your will, current debt payments, and investments. Don’t forget to set aside a fixed amount for splurges—after all, you want to enjoy  your money, too! This is highly important in knowing what to do if you win the lottery, as with a spending and investing plan, you can be certain to achieve your goals while ensuring there is money well into the future.

⚡️ Feeling inspired? Get in the game on the Jackpocket lottery app for mobile or desktop.

Step 5: Claim your prize

Check out our step-by-step guide on how to claim a lottery prize from home. Otherwise, you'll make an appointment to visit your local state lottery claim center. Each state will have different rules around whether you can claim your prize at a satellite claim center or from the lottery headquarters. It’s often based on the amount being claimed. See your state’s lottery website for more information and to obtain any necessary claim forms.

What should you do if you won the lottery but got your ticket in another state? Get ready for a road trip. You will need to travel back to the state where you got your ticket to claim your prize. In this case, you will want to review that state’s lottery website (instead of your own state) to determine where to go to claim your prize.

What happens if you win on Jackpocket?

You might be thinking you ordered your lottery tickets online on Jackpocket. What happens if you win the lottery using a lottery app?

If you win a lottery prize on Jackpocket, the app will automatically credit your account for the amount won up to the threshold amount in your state (usually ~$600). If you win over the threshold, we will arrange to securely send your ticket to you so you can claim your winnings with your state lottery.

What to do once you claim your lottery winnings

Speak with a financial advisor before heading to the bank (don’t just walk up to a teller with a check for a huge amount of money in your hands) and discuss your options for holding or investing large amounts of money. Individual accounts are only insured by the government for up to $250,000, so any amount in excess isn’t protected. So you may consider spreading the money among different accounts if not different banks.

One of the most important things to do if you win the lottery is to create a new budget. Take the suggestions of your financial advisors and lawyers into account when creating your new budget. Budgeting ensures you have plenty of money to pay the bills, have some fun, and save for the future. A charity or giving plan can also be a part of your annual and monthly budgeting plan. 

Ready to play? It's easy to get in the game with Jackpocket. Try all your favorite lottery games on Jackpocket, and check out our Smart Order feature to ensure you never miss a lottery drawing with your lucky numbers.

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