Shut Up If You Win $1.73B Powerball, Mega Millions Jackpots, Advisor Says
With the annuity value of the Mega Millions jackpot at nearly $1 billion and Wednesday's Powerball at $730 million what should you do if you have the winning ticket?
Keep quiet and keep it to yourself, according to financial planner Lou Scatigna, with AFM Investments of Toms River, who says that no matter the amount of the jackpots the rules are the same for such a life-changing event.
"The first thing you need to do is shut up. You can't let people know your fortune. A lot of times you'll see people on TV three days after they win. That's probably the biggest mistake you can make because you're not mentally prepared for the onslaught of press you're going to get as well as people who want to take advantage of your fortune," Scatigna said.
A law signed by Gov. Phil Murphy allows winners to stay anonymous. The New Jersey winner of the Mega Millions jackpot on Feb. 12 remained private.
But Scatigna said there are people who can't resist their moment in the spotlight.
"People with fragile egos and so forth, they want to be on TV. They want everyone to know how rich they are all of a sudden and that's a mistake because the less people that know the better in almost every situation," Scatigna said.
The spotlight will also bring unwanted calls from financial advisors, people looking for investors in their business, stock brokers and lawyers all looking for your money.
"The key here is to surround yourself with a great accountant, a great financial planner and a great lawyer that have experience with things like this to make sure you're counseled properly and you don't do anything without vetting it through your personal committee," Scatigna said.
The two multistate Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots have not been won for 36 drawings since September. The Powerball jackpot will have an annuity value of $750 million ($546 million in cash) for its next drawing on Wednesday, the sixth largest ever offered in U.S. lottery.
The Mega Millions jackpot grows to an annuity value of $970 million ($628.2 million cash) for the next drawing on Tuesday, the second largest in American lottery history.
The New Jersey Lottery advises winners to sign their winning ticket, put it in a secure place and make an appointment to bring the ticket to lottery headquarters in Mercer County. The office is open by appointment during the coronavirus pandemic.