Mega Millions: What to Do If You Actually Win

Wait just a minute before you call everyone you know

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 30, 2012 7:25 AM CDT | Updated Mar 30, 2012 7:54 AM CDT

(Newser) You're probably not going to hit the jackpot in tonight's $540 million Mega Millions drawing—but what if you do? First of all, if you bought a bunch of tickets with a pool of co-workers or friends, you might want to take a moment to write up a formal agreement before the 11pm ET drawing, the Houston Chronicle reports. Another good idea: distribute photocopies of the tickets to each pool member. "You never think about these things until after you won," one attorney says. "And that's what makes the litigation necessary." The AP offers more tips for after you win:

  • DO sign the back of the ticket, make a copy, and hide it or lock it up somewhere safe.
  • DON'T call everyone you know to tell them the good news—soon you'll be overwhelmed with people hoping to share in your newfound riches.
  • DO get in touch with a lawyer and a financial planner—preferably people you trust. Can't think of anyone? Ask a trusted family member or friend for a recommendation.

  • DON'T make your identity public if you don't have to. Depending on where you live, you may be able to form a trust and keep your identity private.
  • DO think long and hard about whether to take the lump sum ($359 million before taxes) or the annual payments (about $19 million per year, before taxes, for 26 years). There are benefits and drawbacks to both, and the final decision will likely depend on how good you are at managing money—and what your tax advisor says.
  • DO splurge a bit—but if you're trying to keep your winnings under wraps, you may not want to park your new Porsche out front.
After all that, a reality check: Click to see why you're not going to win.

A sign is posted in front of Kanti's with the estimated value of the Mega Millions jackpot Thursday, March 29, 2012, in Indianapolis.   (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Milton Smith picks up $1080 worth of Mega Millions lottery tickets after buying them from Bluebird liquor store on March 29, 2012 in Hawthorne, California.   (Getty Images)
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