The largest lottery jackpot in history went to one lucky winner earlier this week. But an estimated 22 people may have million-dollar tickets on their hands.
The person in California who purchased the jackpot-winning ticket matched all five numbers and the Powerball number to secure a $2.04 billion prize. But matching five of the numbers still means a $1 million payout — and 22 people across 16 different states may have winning tickets, according to Powerball.
Those million-dollar winners would still face the hefty taxes that take a bite out of lottery winnings. The automatic 24% federal tax rate would take a $1 million payout down to $760,000, according to Powerball’s tax calculator. Local income and prize taxes could bring that number down further, depending on where they live.
Regardless of the final total, winners would be smart to carefully plan how to use the money. While smaller-prize winners may not feel the need to maintain anonymity as much as major jackpot winners, a six-figure cash windfall can certainly change your life — and unlike jackpot winners, you may not have the option to receive your payout as an annuity.
There are enough horror stories of lottery winners squandering their earnings to make winning a major prize seem like more trouble than it’s worth. A smaller prize takes a bit of the pressure off, but anyone receiving such a large cash payout can make mistakes.
In fact, around 70% of people who receive a major cash windfall don’t have anything to show for it within a matter of years, according to financial planning group Sudden Money Institute.
Expert advice varies on how exactly you should spend the money, and your personal needs may influence your decision, but consulting a financial planner can help you navigate those questions and get the most out of your winnings.
“If you win the lottery, my first recommendation is to equip yourself with a strong team,” Liz Weikes, a Wealth Partner at J.P. Morgan Wealth Management, says. “You’ll want to engage a lawyer, financial advisor and tax expert who you trust and feel comfortable with.”
Common advice for lottery winners says to take the prize as an annuity to extend its life. When that’s not an option, using the money to build wealth or reach other financial goals is never a bad idea.
“One of the best use of your lottery windfall is to pay off all of your debt,” Robert Pagliarini, a certified financial planner who also wrote a book on how to manage major cash windfalls, tells CNBC Make It.
With lump sum payments, Pagliarini recommends winners “set aside enough to cover all of the taxes. Invest whatever is left over for your retirement.”
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