Here's What To Do And What Not To Do If You Win The Powerball

Dream big.

Last Saturday, people held their breath in anticipation for the winning combination of numbers to be announced for a record Powerball prize of $949.8 million. But, alas, no winning ticket was drawn, which means ticket-buyers are still in the running. Now, the jackpot has gone up to an estimated $1.4 billion. That's right, people — $1,400,000,000.  

If you take the money all at once, that's around $524.3 million after federal taxes. 

Now just fantasize for a second about what you'd do if you won that kind of money. 


You'd be living on Easy Street, right?

Or would you? 

Imgur user AngusVanhookHinson points out some of the hardships faced by past lottery winners, and gives a step-by-step guide on what to do when (note the usage of when, not if) you win that money after the numbers are announced Wednesday, 10:59 p.m. EST. (Don't worry that your odds of winning are about 1 in 292.2 million. Just channel the power of The Secret, and make the universe your shopping mall.)

The guide let's you know how to avoid those who might come after you for "help," how to protect yourself, and how to best spend your Powerball winnings so that you stay humble and rich. 

Mind you, this is one person's opinion on what to do with $1.4 billion, not a set of cut-and-dry rules on how to spend your riches. That being said, AngusVanhookHinson does seem to know a thing or two about the Powerball, and we think his guide seems pretty sound. But you can decide for yourself. 

Check out the images below with captions by the Imgur user. 

Warning: Some profanity used. 

"So you won the Powerball. Now what?"

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"The Powerball jackpot for Wednesday January 13, is currently estimated to be $1.3 billion USD. Assuming you take the cash option (like most winners do), after taxes, you're going to get anywhere between $420-460 million. For the sake of argument, lets round down, to $400 million. Congratulations, you're officially one of the One Percent! But like any sudden change in life, going from ramen to caviar overnight can be fraught with missteps and pitfalls. I've given some thought, and come up with a guide to getting through the worst of it. First, some of the main pitfalls:"

"Lottery winners have a huge incidence of family strife after winning."

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"Jack Whittaker, a West Virginia man, won a $315 million Powerball jackpot in 2002. He gave millions to charity, including $14 million to start his own foundation. But later, a briefcase with $545,000 in cash and cashier's checks was taken from his car while it was parked outside a strip club. In addition, his granddaughter died under suspicious circumstances. He told reporters, 'I wish I'd torn that ticket up.' Evelyn Baseshore of New Jersey, took away a total of $5 million in the mid-1980s. She was confronted by people who wanted a share of her money. 'Everybody had their hand out,' she said. Alex Toth from Florida won $13 million in 1990. By the time he died in 2008, he had split with his wife and he faced fraudulent tax return charges. (maybe we can chalk this up to Florida Man). [Read] some further cautionary tales here." 

"If you think you're going to divorce your spouse, and leave with all the money, you are absolutely wrong."

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"In 1996, Denise Rossi shocked her husband Thomas by filing for a divorce. Turns out she had won the lottery 11 days before she filed. When she was found out, a Los Angeles family court judge ruled that she had violated state asset disclosure laws and awarded *all* of her lottery winnings to her ex-husband. TL;DR: Just divorce after winning. Everything above board. It's simply easier."

"Step one: hire a lawyer."

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"Numbers are drawn at 10:59 p.m. Eastern Time, US. At 11:00 p.m., you know you've won, and you're staring at your ticket, trying not to have a heart attack. Calm down. Take a shot of whatever you have on hand. At 11:15 p.m., open the phone book or Google 'business lawyers.' Call every one until you find someone who's awake. Hire them on the spot. You can change lawyers later. For now, you need someone who is at least a little versed in handling this kind of money in a professional manner, and can protect your rights and interests. Because until now, you haven't been able to wipe your a** effectively without worrying that you spent too much on two-ply last week."

"Step two: have your lawyer hire a police escort."

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"In Texas, where I live, if your winnings are over a certain amount, you MUST get your winnings in Austin. I live five hours away, and I'm not sure I could drive that without killing myself if I knew I had the winning Powerball numbers. Further, the only thing proving that I won anything is a tiny slip of paper. I am damned slow to trust anyone, but I know that if I hire someone who's job it is to keep the public safe, I'll feel better. (Yes, I understand I say that because I'm White) Same principle as above. You're going to need someone to keep you sane for the next week. So have your lawyer arrange an escort at the very least, or even a driver."

"Step three: Tell this guy, and everyone like him to f*ck right off."

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"This. F*cking. GUY. This motherf*cker and everyone like him will be the people who test your resolve the most. 'Hi, I'm your cousin's wife's aunt's mechanic. Look, can you help a guy out?' Here are my criteria for 'helping a guy out:' Do I know you? Have I talked to you about anything more important than the weather and other small talk in the past year? What's my last name? When's my birthday? If you can answer all those questions correctly, then *AT MY DISCRETION*, I am willing to give you up to $50,000. At $50k, the bank is closed. This goes for my four siblings, my in-laws, my friends, and my parents if they were alive. The one thing I would do is to pay off my mother-and-father in law's house. They're 75, and they deserve to rest for a while before they die. Everyone else can F*CK RIGHT OFF. If you need money, you can spend your two dollars and take your chances the same as I did. I'll even wish you luck."

"Step four: hire a financial planner."

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You've never seen that many zeros on a check that wasn't in a headline about how much Goldman Sachs defrauded the public. This guy (or gal) is your new best friend. You want him to take the next steps for you, with your wishes in mind, and then you never want to look at a check that big again. Remember that you can always change financial planners. If one's not working, move on to another one.

"Pay your debts. Pay for everything else in full from now on."

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"Pay off your house, your car, your bar tab, your mechanic down the street. Then never pay for anything on credit again (some small exceptions, I'll cover them at another time)." 

"Pay your student loans. Set up a fund for your children's college."

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"Get out from under your college debt. Then, set up a fund that takes into account the current level of inflation, and put in it the projected amount that would pay for four years in a mid-to-high level college for your children. This might change at some point. Frankly, I've always been of the mind that some people aren't college people. Maybe you can invest that tuition in a business they want to start. Maybe they can go to a trade school. Whatever it is, set up your children's futures, but just enough that they still have to work, and appreciate their money, and where it came from."

"The first car comes after all reasonable school goals have been met."

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"For my child, this would be a MODEST car. Three to four years old, 50k miles on it, safe and reliable. No teenager needs to have a new car. Of any kind. A new car for a teenager is less a means of transportation, and more a status symbol. And they're damned sure not going to get a sports car. I'm 40 and rich. The sports car belongs to ME."

"Your children must work."

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"We all hate that particular breed of f*ckt*rds that treat others like they're shit, and that never had to work a day in their life. *MY* children will work. I don't give a single solitary shit where it is, as long as its legal, and they can pay for their own gas and insurance."

"Live modestly."

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"In your talks with your financial planner, you'll want to be sure that through the investments they make, you can reasonably expect to live at the level of mid-to-high range middle class. In my area, that's around $105,000 a year. That gets all the bills paid and keeps the cars on the road. Everyone is fed, you can pay your minor medical bills, and everyone has a nice Christmas. If you want, take off another $25k a year for a really nice vacation every year. Invest the rest."

"Step five: start a non-profit."

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"It's been a year since you won. Now that you've got your own corner of the world free and clean, you want to help people, right? Its a noble thing, and all the millionaires are doing it. By setting up your own non-profit, you can put your money where *you* think it will do the most good. If that means adopting a hundred dogs for your new sport of Cross Country Wheeled Dog Sledding, so be it. Whatever blows your dress up."

"For the love of all that's holy, get a will."

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"Do you want to make sure that your whole family hates you till the end of time? Its simple! Just die without a will. Everyone in history that had more than two nickels to rub together when they died, had all their aunts, uncles, and cousins fighting over their shit before the funeral was over. Get a will. Get A Will. GET. A. WILL. Update it every five years in your 20s and 30s, every two years in your 40s and 50s, and every year from 60 onward. Is this how I front page edit? I don't know, f*ck it, lets see! Lots of people saying some version of 'you could do so much more with the money,' you're absolutely right. But after having learned from a life of leaping before I look FAR too many times, I'd be conservative. Of course a lot of it would go to doing other things like helping the homeless and those that didn't get as lucky. My own cause is to buy and fix older cars to working order, and then give them to single working parents. Some people have said I'm a douche for limiting my family members to $50k. Well, I know my family, and if they ever thought the tap was open, they'd empty the cistern as fast as they possibly could. Also, 'the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.' That means I have no obligation to them at all because they happen to have the same parents, especially if they've been dicks to me most of my life. Too many burns makes one weary..." 


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