What to Do if You Win Powerball (You Won't)

Lawyer up and wait to claim your prize

By Liam Carnahan,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 28, 2012 10:27 AM CST

(Newser) – If you're hoping to win that $500 million Powerball jackpot tonight, we have bad and less-than-surprising news for you: It ain't gonna happen. But one person ultimately has to defy the stacked-way-against-you odds, and if that happens to be you, do this:

  • Get yourself some good lawyers and financial advisers, one analyst tells CBS News. Actually listen to them.
  • Sign that winning ticket and put it somewhere safe. Take note: "The safe place is not a shoebox in your closet."

  • Keep quiet, and hold your horses. There's no reason to claim your prize immediately, and it's best to get your "team" set up before you come forward. Because once you do, you can expect to be inundated with appeals from cash-seeking strangers.
  • Remember the winning ticket may not be the answer to your prayers. Time lists jackpot winners who would have been better off burning their ticket. Here's one: William Post III won $16.2 million. Three months after his first payout he was $500,000 in debt (buying an airplane and a restaurant may have been a mistake); his brother allegedly hired a hit man to kill him; and Post himself faced jail time after shooting at a bill collector.
  • But that fate won't be yours ... because as CNN sagely points out, you're not freaking winning this thing: You're vastly more likely to get struck by lightning, be attacked by a shark, or die from a bee sting.
  • On the odd chance that you do win (that chance being one in 175,223,510), here are some quirky ways to contextualize your winnings, compliments of HLN: If you counted one dollar per second, it would take you 16 years to finish. Or you could give a buck to every single person in North America and still walk away with a cool $40 million.

A woman holds her powerball ticket in Hollywood, Fla. Friday, Nov. 23, 2012.
A woman holds her powerball ticket in Hollywood, Fla. Friday, Nov. 23, 2012.   (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
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