It's Friday the 13th, but possibly one American will be the lucky winner of the next Mega Millions Jackpot after the drawing on Friday night. The prize is $1.35 billion, the second-highest in the game's history, and the sheer size of the winnings is pushing some reluctant gamblers to buy a ticket.
"To be honest, I'm not much of a lottery guy, but I'm jumping on the bandwagon this week," said Tom from New Rochelle, New York, from a deli counter.
What will he buy if he wins? "A couple of Lamborghinis… maybe the New York Giants."
But figuring out your first big purchase is just one of many things to consider if you hit the jackpot. Rebecca Walser, a financial planner and author of Wealth Unbroken: Growing Wealth Uninterrupted by Market Crashes, Taxes, and Even Death, offered three tips.
— "Number one, tell nobody and do not sign your ticket. Make sure you take selfies with it and make copies of it, but put it in a secure location. Only tell potentially your spouse."
— "Number two, come up with a financial budget. Most lottery winners actually declare bankruptcy within three to five years of their winnings." (Check out this MIT study from 2011 if you need any convincing.)
— "Number three, make sure that you hire a team of legal experts, tax lawyers, and financial experts to not only implement your legal strategy for accepting your winnings but also to come up with a financial budget."
In short, she said, "seek professional and legal help immediately."