Don’t be a $333 Million lottery loser

You’re suddenly filthy rich, thanks to a shocking and utterly satisfying windfall stacked $333 Mega Million bucks over your head.

Now what?

“Everybody has money problems, it’s just some problems are more fun than others,” said David Fisher, founding partner and chief investment officer at SignatureFD. “Obviously, this would be a nice thing to happen, but it could cause problems.”

Lottery winners have blown it many times over. They’ve lost it in booze and bankruptcy; with compulsive spending and bad investments. They’ve been victims of the unimaginable. And it all leads us to blurt out, “It should have been me. I’d never do that.”

Or so we’d like to think. In the fortunate event that you are the lucky individual holding the $333 million ticket in hand — the largest in two years — you don’t want to travel the road of rags to riches, and double-back. To help you, we’ve solicited the sage advice of metro Atlanta financial advisors and asked what a winner should do if he or she awakens this morning in possession of a piece of paper worth a wad of cash.

# Breathe. Take a timeout and gather your emotions. You’ll soon be inundated and people will come out of the woodwork. Make sure you have both feet on the ground and a level head so you can make intelligent decisions. Said Fisher: “Whether someone inherits money or they sell a company or however they come about it, there’s a lot of emotion. We tell people not to make any decisions for some time; sometimes six months or a year or two years. There’s a lot of euphoria and excitement and emotion. You have more money than you’ll ever need, so you don’t have to rush through anything. You have to get through those emotional stages.”

# Before you talk to anyone, talk to a trusted fiduciary, an attorney and an accountant,” said Helga Cuthbert, a certified financial planner in Decatur with Cuthbert Financial Guidance. “Think of them as your team. Before I would claim the money, I would first find people I’m comfortable with, and then have a conversation with them.”

#Take the money and run. Or at least walk. “Clearly, you want to take the lump sum option,” said Andy Berg, co-founder and chief executive officer of Homrich Berg. “You want the bird in the hand. You don’t want to take the risk of whether or not future payments are going to happen.”

# Keep it simple. Added Berg: “The winner needs to avoid the temptation of what I would term ’sexy investments’ and stick to trying to be conservative. Hit singles, because you don’t need doubles, triples or home runs.”

# Assess your priorities. Cuthbert said it is clear that many people fail to spend time figuring out what’s most important in their lives and what joys they are anticipating. Think about family, charities or other priorities and how you’d best want to handle them. “It can turn into a real albatross around their neck,” she said, if it isn’t given careful consideration.

What would you do first if you won?

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52 comments Add your comment


August 28th, 2009
2:42 pm

Playing the lotto should be a very priority to begin with if you have money constraints. It’s gambling pure and simple. The chances of winning are minuscule. Thus it must be thought of as entertainment. You are throwing the money you play away as source of fun and not an investment. That said, you can’t win if you don’t play. So have fun, but be smart about it. If you do win…more power to you!

GA Girl

August 28th, 2009
3:01 pm

Remember the FDIC maximum insurance coverage on account types. Investments are not FDIC insured, not guaranteed, and may lose value. Ladder your accounts and you have a right to investigate the financial safety and soundness of the financial institutions.


August 28th, 2009
3:10 pm

If you win, throw a $325 million crack party!


August 28th, 2009
3:13 pm

I like Brandon’s idea…


August 28th, 2009
3:24 pm

Where do you park this money for a year while you attempt to stay level headed?


August 28th, 2009
3:25 pm

I’ve always wondered: can you claim it anonymously?

I know it still gets reported to the IRS but theoretically they have to keep it confidential (ha, ha!). is it possible to keep your identity out of the press, on a “need to know” basis (i.e. IRS, bank[s], lawyer[s], etc)?

I Get Around

August 28th, 2009
3:29 pm

Should I win such a huge amount, my family would each get a $million off the top. Next would come charities for ailing children. After that, all bills would be paid, and my house paid off. I don’t want to live in a mansion. We love where we are. I’ll do some much-needed renovations, but prefer to stay put. There are other things I’d like to do to help others. $333 million (yes, it went up) is just too much for one person. My granddaughter will be the recipient of a college fund, and a fund to become hers at age 18. Also, money will be put away for “anticipated other grandkids”. I’ve always wanted to buy and flip houses, and this would be a great way to do it.


August 28th, 2009
3:41 pm

If I win, I would end up naked and broke on a beach in the bahamas….But what a great 3 weeks it would be

Hannibal Lechter

August 28th, 2009
3:44 pm

Hookers and lots of ‘em.


August 28th, 2009
3:44 pm

“They’ve lost it in boos”? What, someone scared the money out of their pockets?

Hannibal Lechter

August 28th, 2009
3:46 pm

Are you still the news department personnel person? If so, how do you like the double duty?


August 28th, 2009
3:51 pm

buy lots of candy and blankets for the homeless of atlanta


August 28th, 2009
3:53 pm

I Get Around, this is another reason for the need of an accountant and attorney. Did you know that that government only allows you to give away $12,000 a year to someone before YOU are taxed on it? That’s right, the government will tax you AGAIN for giving away money that you’ve already paid taxes on! FAIR TAX NOW!

Anyway, after my family is taken care of, I’d start my racing career. No not NASCAR, but something in open wheel racing. I’d be the oldest rookie in F1 or the IRL. LOL


August 28th, 2009
3:59 pm

Ghost, the gift tax also has a $1 million lifetime exclusion. So if you give more than $12,000 to one person, it starts chipping into that million.

Which still isn’t a very big piece of what would end up being about $125 million after taxes.

I too wonder if you can do it anonymously. A guy who won in DC formed an LLC that sent an attorney to claim it – can we do that in Georgia?

Mega Millions

August 28th, 2009
4:00 pm

“I get around” said exactly what I was thinking. My entire family would be given a million. Charities and non profit organizations like the ASPCA and St. Judes Childrens Hospital, which I already give money to would get a huge portion. I would be able to foster animals from the humane society and I wouldn’t have to work so I coud spend more time volunteering. I don’t hold my breath though as the chances of winning are so slim.


August 28th, 2009
4:15 pm

i think you can set up a trust to claim it for you.

Rana Cash

August 28th, 2009
4:23 pm

Hannibal: Nope, not in recruiting anymore.

RK: Nothing to be scared about :-) ..Thanks.

Tank, you don’t want to try and figure it out on your own. Smart thing to do is hire good people to sort it out for you. I’d do that before I even told anybody I’d won.

Ghost: Good luck with that racing thing! As some teams have proven, money can buy you a championship after all :-)


August 28th, 2009
4:41 pm

I would buy Montana


August 28th, 2009
5:05 pm

Pretty sure you can’t be anonymous in Georgia, I seem to remember something about the lottery commission having the right to use you in promotional material, which would kinda kill anonymity.

Giving plenty to my family and to my best friend. Buying a house and a nice car and spending a few weeks indulging myself in Las Vegas. Then I’m conservatively investing all but $60 million. $10 mil goes into a trust for some sort of charitable foundation, and $50 becomes seed money for my new venture capital fund. Then I’m getting a place in San Francisco and funding a few tech startups here and there.

The way I look at it, I bought $5 in tickets and have gotten at least an hour’s worth of fun fantasies about what I would do if I won. $5 is cheaper than a lot of other things I could do for an hour.


August 28th, 2009
5:25 pm

I would first send each of my children at least a million. Then I would pay off my credit cards, home, and car. I would put the rest under the mattress and take a criuse for 2 weeks to take my mind off of it. Then I would come home and find a good financial advisor to help me put away the rest.


August 28th, 2009
5:26 pm

Quitting my job would be among the first things I would do.


August 28th, 2009
5:35 pm

I would buy Channel 46 and fire the knuckleheads who run it.


August 28th, 2009
5:48 pm

I honestly don’t know what I’d do with that money. Fortunately, a good frient and mentor of mine is a financial planer who works with much larger clients than my “meager” $130m after taxes, and I’d ask him for advice.


August 28th, 2009
5:49 pm

I’ve signed the back of my ticket! I believe I have the winning numbers!


August 28th, 2009
5:50 pm

Everyone would think I died. Because they would never hear from me again.


August 28th, 2009
5:56 pm

I would first give a tenth to the Lord , then some to realtives. Pay off my house, car and all bills. I would go on a vacation with mre and my hubby only and then a trip with my hubby and son. I would invest, go shopping and buy my dream car (Range Rover) and then let my hubby handle the rest…..HE IS EXCELLENT WITH MONEY.

Mrs. Iwonthe$333millionlottery

August 28th, 2009
6:13 pm

What I would do if I won the $333 million

1.Breathe, scream and jump for joy!
2. Hire an attorney and an accountant
3. Call a family meeting and have everyone sign a gag order statement to keep their mouths shut!
4. Describe my plans for distribution of the funds. You talk and you get nothing!
5. Hire a few trusted friends to work for me and pay them well.
6. Buy me a new SUV and get a dental makeover.
7. Start searching for the perfect ranch style home some where in metro Atl..
8. Donate a huge percentage to my church and charities.
9. Have a steak dinner with my hubby and figure out what to do next.
10. Avoid all phone calls and uninvited guest.

joe black

August 28th, 2009
6:22 pm

this is a conversation that friends and i have been having everytime the lotto gets above $100m and that is do you take the lump sum or the annual payout? right now i would tka the annual payout because it adjust for inflation AND because these banks are dropping like flies the FDIC only insures your money up to $250k so why go through the potential headache when each year you will get $3.8m before taxes ($100m lotto).

now what i would do then is give God his 10% pay towards my 2 children college fund buy a house nothing large but $250k max because in this real estate market that is a $400k house or more buy a few classic cars and then i would invest in local small businesses and start ups

Mrs. Iwonthe$333millionlottery

August 28th, 2009
6:39 pm

Forgot to mention here are my winning numbers:
5 -18-24–39-44 (Mega Ball- 7)

The Nerd

August 28th, 2009
6:44 pm

For starters, I would donate some to the American Diabetes Association (hopely to find a cure for “the sugar”), and The National Committee For The Prevention of Child Abuse (and hire some competent DFACS workers nationwide in the process). The remainder? Something NON FOOLISH!!! ROFL

Hop Scotch

August 28th, 2009
6:47 pm

Keep 25% for myself/family. Spend the remaining to create free programs to re-train displaced/unemployed people in metro Atlanta.

Felix the Cat

August 28th, 2009
6:48 pm

Damn Mrs those are my numbers.

Rana Cash

August 28th, 2009
6:49 pm

Good one, Mrs Iwonthe$333million lottery.

Do you think the person who wins, if local, will break the news right here on this blog? Be kind enough to share with me after providing this excellent advice? :-)

Rana Cash

August 28th, 2009
6:55 pm

I’d definitely donate to charities I believe in and trust, make sure my family is taken care of and make sound investments that will bring wealth to my family for generations to come.


August 28th, 2009
7:00 pm

I would spend the rest of my life helping the less fortunate. I probably should do that anyway.

$333million hopeful

August 28th, 2009
7:17 pm

I would bring back my favorite tv show..The Game…It was cancelled off the CW.


August 28th, 2009
7:25 pm

As one who grew up with nothing and knows what it is to struggle all your life just to keep the rent and utilities paid, and sometimes sitting in the dark and the extreme heat or cold wondering just how to do that, I would consider myself blessed to be able to help a lot of people in the same situation.


August 28th, 2009
8:01 pm

First, I would continue to Live, Love and Laugh even more and thank GOD first with my 10%. I would get the best attorney in the Atlanta area. Then I would get all my immediate family and close friends together and decide on the amount they would receive. In addition I would take GREAT care of my Grandmother and Aunt since they have been my backbone since my mom past 9years ago. Next I would set up college funds for my children and get a bigger house for my husband and children. I would then look into buying a lot of foreclosed homes fix them up and put families in them. I then would save and continue to praise GOD.


August 28th, 2009
8:05 pm

Nasty Old Man

August 28th, 2009
8:25 pm

I would do two chicks at the same time!

Jim Palmer

August 28th, 2009
8:42 pm

If I win I would be very unhappy because I bought a ticket for the next 5 drawrings… what a waste if I win


August 28th, 2009
8:53 pm

Its going to roll over!!!!!


August 28th, 2009
9:02 pm

I would get my pickup painted and new underpinning for my trailer. That good expensive kind!

the boy...

August 28th, 2009
9:04 pm

please do not listen to all these people saying that the lottery is a waste of money, because it isnt. some people like myself would not have gone to college and graduated had it not been for the hope scholarship provided by the georgia lottery.

College Dad

August 28th, 2009
9:06 pm

Everyone. Keep playing for 2 more years until my son gets out of college. Then learn to do math.


August 28th, 2009
9:15 pm

All of my closest friends would instantly be in a Geo Metro Hatchback club. I would buy them one, paint them crazy colors and put spinning gold hubcaps on each one. I would supply their upkeep and gas. They would be required to have weekly meetings in highly public places, and enter their prized tacky rides in prestigious car shows, and look dumbfounded when the judges shrug them off. AFTER ONE YEAR, as a reward, I will buy any of them who do not miss a meeting or event the car of their choice/dreams

There are MANY other ways I could mess with my friends as well….. I would enjoy the power.


August 28th, 2009
9:34 pm

I would contact a lawyer, change my cell phone number, cancel the home phone and then go MIA for about 6 months. After buying a house, new car, and going back to school to get the degree I always wanted (BFA), I’ll live the rest of my days travelling and living the good life!


August 28th, 2009
10:05 pm

Put it on my bills, as far as it would go….


August 29th, 2009
5:41 am

I would a buy a business, and after the business expenses are paid (taxes, employees, inventory etc.) I would give 90% away ALL profits away every month forever!! To help those less fortunate !!


August 29th, 2009
5:48 am

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