To the lucky Illinois winner(s) of the $1.28 billion Mega Millions jackpot:
You certainly beat the odds.
Keep cool. Celebrate, but in a very inconspicuous way, as so many advisers will tell you.
Perhaps splurge on a good $19 bottle of wine to accompany your favorite hamburger.
I am sure the winner(s) already has/have hordes of financial (and other) advisers lined up, but for future winners, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. HERE is some expert advice.
As the Mega Millions lottery prize grows past a whopping $800 million, millions are dreaming of becoming millionaires tonight.
Granted, if there is a single winner, he or she will not reap the entire jackpot. There are taxes, and – if the winnings are paid in one installment – a lower “cash value.”
For example, if the jackpot tonight is $810 million, and the (one) winner chooses the cash option, the lucky person will “only” receive $470.1 million, before taxes.
While $800 million is an “astronomical” amount for many mortals, it is not the largest lottery jackpot in US history.
As a matter of fact, there have been three jackpots even bigger than the one tonight with the January 13, 2016, Powerball hitting an all-time record of nearly $1.6 billion. “Sadly,” that jackpot had to be shared among three lucky players residing in California, Florida and Tennessee.
While there are stories of “lottery curse victims” whose luck led to divorce, financial ruin, even murder and suicide, I am sure most of us know exactly what to do if lucky enough to win tonight’s jackpot.
If inspiration is needed, however, here are a few stories of winners who used their windfall to make a positive difference in their and others’ lives: they improved their communities, they brought joy to children, they assisted the underprivileged and helped fight disease.
On the eve of the largest lottery jackpot in US history in 2016, NPR had some suggestions on “What The Powerball Cash Could — And Couldn’t — Buy,” assuming there was one winner – after taking the cash value and paying taxes — leaving him or her $561.72 million.
If still undecided, here are a few ideas of what a 2016 single winner could have done with his fortune, according to NPR:
• He could have bought the entire economic output of Dominica, or Tonga, or any of six other countries with GDPs beneath $400 million.
• He could have bought the nine most expensive properties sold in New York City in 2015.
• He could have bought every single-family home in St. Louis Park, Minn. and still have nearly $2 million left — “for furniture, perhaps”
• He could have paid the total health care costs of 64,469 Americans for a year.
Since tonight’s jackpot is “only” $800 million and some change, and if there is only one winner cashing out at $470 million (sans taxes), inflation would buy the winner much less than in 2016. However, it is still a sizeable amount which could buy him or her 14 luxury homes in Connecticut, or 19,789,473 pizzas, the latter now being Connecticut’s “official food.”
But before rushing off and ordering your pizza with all the toppings, keep in mind that the chance of a single ticket matching all six numbers drawn in Mega Millions tonight is about 1 in 302 million.
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.