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If You Won The Lottery, Would You Tell Anyone?

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Considering all the bad luck lottery winners have, would you tell anyone (if you had a choice and it wasn’t published) that you won the lottery? While it’s nice to get in the paper and hold press conferences, think of all the “friends” you’d suddenly have popping up out of nowhere to ask for a hand and all the “enemies” you’d suddenly have blackmailing you or otherwise extorting money from you… I always wondered why they publicly announced those things anyway, like nine times out of ten it’s a death sentence. A slow death in which all of your friends ask you for a hand-out.

Now, assuming you don’t get blackmailed or honey potted into parting with your money, you now have to contend with the idea of working while sitting on a pot of gold. If you work, people realize you don’t have to and they will likely treat you differently. Will you get the raise you deserve considering you don’t really need the money? Will you get that promotion that you deserve if they’re afraid you’ll quit after a bad day because you don’t need the job? If you don’t work, what will you occupy your time with? Lots of lottery winners (and celebrities, rock stars, athletes) turn to drugs because they have nothing else better to do anymore. But let’s ignore all that because winning the super Powerball jackpot isn’t something you can realistically hide… but…

What if you won a smaller prize… like $500,000? Would you tell anyone? Substitute an amount that you think is significant but not so big that you could quit your job and not so large that it could seriously change your way of life. I think that $500,000 would solve many a financial woe but it’s not enough for one to quit their job… so in the event you won a $500,000 jackpot, would you tell anyone? If so, why? If not, why?

(And no, I didn’t secretly win the lottery or anything like that, though that would be nice!)

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68 Responses to “If You Won The Lottery, Would You Tell Anyone?”

  1. Joseph says:

    Wouldn’t tell regardless. Don’t need (or care for) the publicity.

  2. Clever Dude says:

    I have actually considered this a few times (cause, yes, I do buy lottery tickets). The second place price for megamillions and powerball are around a quarter million. I also play the weekly MD Multi-match, which is around a half million (but it’s an annuity, so the cash option is around a quarter mill).

    Given that after tax, the winnings would pay for all or most of our non-home debt, plus our second mortgage (20% of our home), there’s no need to tell anyone other than our parents and immediate kin. However, I’m sure we would announce to our friends and on my site (AFTER we’ve spent the money) that we were free of all debt except our first mortgage. Oh, how liberating it would be! I can’t even imagine having all that new disposable income :)

    Then I could finally get into the debate about paying off your mortgage vs investing the money. No point in it now since we have all the other debt.

  3. No chance of advertising about a lottery win. I’d escape to the hills of Appalachia. However, I believe the lottery maintains the right to release your name and use it.

    Here’s what I would do should I find myself with a winning ticket (say 9 figures):
    -Retain a trusted attorney(ies)
    -Retain a trusted security person(nel)
    -Take the immediate payout
    -Pay off all my debts
    -Form a trust with 30% of the winnings to protect my family but get the money out of our hands (college, starting business)
    -Form a foundation funded with 65% of my winnings
    -Staff the foundation with trusted individuals and charge them with furthering my causes/values (my dad would be at the top of the list)
    -Set aside 5% or so to start a company and have some fun (travel)!

    Can’t wait! ;-)

  4. Dustin says:

    At most my parents and sister and possibly an accountant/lawyer if I had one.

  5. Beth says:

    My boss and I discuss this from time to time (she buys tickets occasionally; I don’t). We both decided that somewhere around $1,000,000 would be perfect–after taxes, we’d be able to buy/pay off houses, have a few luxuries, and a nice amount in savings for future use (vacations), but it wouldn’t be enough to quit working. Any more than that, and it would get too complex. Really, anything under $1,000,000 is perfect. I’m the type that’s happy with a $5 award–sure, it’s not a lot, but it’s still $5 I didn’t have before!

  6. Rick says:

    I have won the lottery every time I’ve played. Which amounts to a total of zero wins…

    If I did come across such a windfall, I might tell a few of my closest friends, but that’s it. I’d invest the entire sum, and forget that it ever even happened.

  7. I win the lottery every day, by saving the money in a savings account earning 5.25% interest. The lottery is a tax on people that can’t do basic math.

    That being said, if I did wind up with a windfall of some sort, then I wouldn’t advertise it. My accountant and/or lawyer would know (neither of which I have at the moment but this would certainly cause me to get one), my wife would know, and I might tell my folks and my siblings. Past that, who cares? It isn’t their business.

  8. mbhunter says:

    I can’t imagine any lottery that big where you would have a choice about publicity if you were the winner.

  9. Posco says:

    For state-run lotteries, public disclosure of the winner(s) is required. You can’t avoid it; the state-run game is required to publicly make known the winner’s identity. This is what keeps the game accountable. So, having said that, if I won a lottery of low amount (such that it’s not picked up as HUGE news), I’d tell my wife and the IRS.

    By the way, I do not play lottery games. I am of the opinion that our great state of California performs a huge disservice to the public by running these games and funding, ironically, education and other better-deserving social services.

  10. EA says:

    I’d tell my family, and close friends, just as soon as I’d spent/invested the money the way I planned to keep it. If I won 500k I’d probably take some of it (5-10%) and take everyone to europe for a week or so. The rest would be put away before other people could make suggestions on how to spend it.

  11. Steve says:

    I wouldn’t tell anyone no matter what the amount. I’d want to avoid the scrutiny that would go along with the announcement.

  12. Amber says:

    In Oregon (I was researching something for an Accounting class paper) you can choose to be anonymous even if you win the large amount. Now by anonymous that just means no mention in the paper etc but if someone were to call and specifically ask who won what date they would tell them.

    No I wouldn’t necessarily tell anyone, at least not right away.

    I’d pay off bills, fill up emergency/roth accounts, and sit on the rest for six months while deciding what to do. All the while staying at my job. That’s what I’d do.

  13. thomas says:

    i’d invest in pork bellies.

  14. Steve says:

    I’d tell my family-and then set up trusts to help them-for anyone else, I’d tell them “my broker” had all the money tied up ;-

  15. jim says:

    orange futures man… straight up trading places baby

  16. D says:

    “I” would never win the lottery. Should the “winning” ticket make it to my hands, I would:

    1. create a trust, in which I was the “ceo”
    2. then claim the funds in the trust.

    The trust would be the advertised winner. Should someone sue me in hopes of getting the money, they would not be able to hit the trust. This money would be safe

    The trust would then pay out no more than 50% of earnings in a year, to cover mine and potentially other family members salaries. This trust would have many more little “kinks” that would keep in running for generations to come.

    If the cash was small – why tell? Who cares? I would just collect the cash, max retirement savings, and pay down mortgages. Leaving no chance to be pressured by sob stories.

  17. Kira says:

    I’ve thought about this a lot before too. I actually decided I would say that someone close to me (that I obviously trust) one it. Then I could be one of their “friends” and hear what all their other “friends” really say about them.

    The biggest thing people say to do is to take time away from everything and seriously think about it. At the rate I take vacations, this should set off no alarms to those around me.

    I will tell you one thing though…. there’s a house on a hill in a little town not far from me. Has lots of land and lots of peace and serenity. That would be the first thing I would buy.

    I’m with everyone else in setting up the trust though. I actually already have one, (everyone should) though this one would be worth a lot more! :-)

  18. Joe says:

    Think about if folks–the lottery must disclose your name because think of all the people playing the lottery who did not win and the lottery just announced that someone won but did not disclose the name–nobody would believe them over time. If you enter a sweepstakes wouldn’t you want to know the winner otherwise you would think it was a fraud.

  19. chowmein says:

    i wud do me!!! :D

  20. Patrick says:

    You can’t help the publicity on the main jackpot, but on the smaller wins ($250k is the Mega Millions highest non-jackpot), I would only tell my wife and maybe both of our parents. I would take my wife on a nice vacation – maybe Australia, then I would then invest the rest.

    I don’t have any outstanding debt other than our mortgage, otherwise I would pay off all of debt first. We don’t have kids yet, but if we did, I would set up a 529 for them also.

    Yes, I sometimes play the lottery, but only when I have pot odds. A dollar here or there never hurt anyone, and it makes for fun discussions like this! ;)

  21. plonkee says:

    In the UK national lottery the lottery “may not publicise any details of any Prize winner without the prior written consent of that person”.

    I wouldn’t be telling anyone if I could help it. But I am rubbish at keeping a secret.

  22. Jonathan says:

    I wouldn’t tell anyone about my winnings save my wife.

    *No* amount of windfall would dramatically change my life substantially in the immediate future. No $-amount would cause me to leave my job tomorrow, or this year, or next for that matter. No $-amount would cause me to up and move to the Cayman Islands.

    With a tidy sum of $500,000 I wouldn’t even bother paying off my house–I can handle the low-interest debt, and would prefer to be heavily invested in the market or my own business than my primary residence. After giving away $100,000, I would invest $300,000 into stock market index funds, keep $50,000 in cash, upgrade to a mini-van ($25,000) and go somewhere special on vacation with my wife ($25,000).

  23. MikeVx says:

    For small prizes, like when I won $100 twice in three months, (about 3.5 years worth of ticket purchases) I’ll tell people, the amount is low enough that the worst I can expect is a “buy lunch” joke.

    For really large prizes, I would not tell anyone but my to-be-carefully-chosen financial manager, and I actually do have that choice. In Michigan, a law was passed in 1988 that gives winners of more than $10,000 the ability to remain anonymous if they choose. This only applies to the in-state games, so those are the only ones I buy tickets for.

    As I buy tickets on an average of less than 1 a week, I treat it as an entertainment expense (insert grand dreams here).

  24. I would try not to tell anyone, but I would probably end up doing it anyway.

  25. Jeanne B. says:

    If the jackpot were small (ending in the word “thousands”), why bother? Pay off the major debts, sock a bit away for later, nobody need be the wiser.

    If it ends in “millions”, I’d keep it to myself. I haven’t quite figured out how to justify some of my future purchases to the nosier friends; then again… so I bought that Dodge Ram 3500 and the nice horse trailer and someone close to me wants to know how I could afford that, well… isn’t everyone supposed to be up to their eyeballs in ridiculous debt because they are living beyond their means? Let them think I maxed out the MasterCard. Nobody needs to know it’s already paid for. That’s my business.

    The only people who need to know are: me, my accountant, my lawyer, my bank, and my financial planner.


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