What To Do If You Win The $550 Million Powerball Jackpot

Thursday January 4th 2018

The sixth-largest Powerball jackpot of all time will be up for grabs on Saturday night after Wednesday’s drawing passed by without a winner. The top prize now stands at $550 million, having not been won since October 25th, and players across America will be rushing out to buy tickets. But if you are lucky enough to win the jackpot, what steps do you need to take next?

Check Your Numbers

The first step to making sure you do not miss out on a Powerball prize is to check your numbers. Millions of dollars go unclaimed every year because players purchase tickets and then forget about them, so don’t forget to have a look at the Winning Powerball Numbers after Saturday’s drawing. If you have won, make sure to keep your ticket safe and sign the back of it until you are ready to come forward.

Make Your Claim

Once you’ve discovered you’re a jackpot winner, you need to claim your prize. The length of time you have to come forward varies from state to state, and can be as short as 90 days or as long as a year. If you don’t make contact with your state lottery before the deadline, you will not be able to get your hands on the money. 

Verify The Claim

When you make your claim, you will be asked a few simple questions about your ticket so that the state lottery can check the information against their own records. They will then set up a meeting so that your claim can be verified, and this involves showing them your ticket and providing identification. They will then fill out the necessary paperwork so that you can receive your money.

Seek Advice

Before the money is paid into your account, you can ask your state lottery for advice about how to deal with such a big win. They should also be able to point you in the direction of a financial expert who can tell you about such matters as tax. There is a federal tax obligation of 39.6% on Powerball jackpots, which is made up of 25% withheld immediately before your winnings are paid and 14.6% taken at the start of the next tax year. There is also a further withholding at state level in most, but not all, jurisdictions.

Cash or Annuity?

When it comes to receiving your money, you have the choice between taking an annuity payout or a cash sum. The annuity option involves 30 payments spread over 29 years, and is equal to the advertised jackpot. The alternative is a one-off cash payment, usually around 37% lower than the annuity value, and this is favored by most winners. The cash value for Saturday’s $550 million jackpot is $347.9 million. Find out more about the differences between cash and annuity jackpots.

Public or Anonymous?

If you live in Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina, you have the option to stay anonymous if you don’t want your identity to be revealed. Other states set it out as a condition that winners’ names must be announced and there is usually a press conference. However, you do not have to speak at the press conference, and you can change the way you look to make yourself less recognizable. In some states you might also be able to claim your money through a trust fund, with a lawyer coming forward on your behalf.

Enjoy The Win

Once you have picked up your money, it is time to get on with enjoying the rest of your life. The financial freedom of a huge Powerball jackpot would not just allow you give up work, move house or buy new cars; you could also treat loved ones, safeguard your family’s future for generations and splash out on the most extravagant purchases you could dream of. Tickets for Saturday’s game are available in participating jurisdictions or you can choose numbers online. Good luck!

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