What would you do if you won a multi-million dollar lottery? Strategies for not having the windfall ruin your life

Friday’s MEGA Millions is up to $502 million. What would you do if you won so the windfall doesn’t ruin your life?

I found this Reddit thread to be interesting and it strikes me as solid advice: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/24vo34/whats_the_happiest_5word_sentence_you_could_hear/chb38xf/ (tl;dr - Winning the lottery ruins most people’s lives. Get a trust attorney, take the lump sum, decide in advance how much to give out to friends/family and stick w/ it, set up a trust so it can’t all be spent at once, etc.)

It all seems reasonable to me. Anything the FWF (or whatever we call ourselves now) community would change?


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We had a bunch of these topics on FWF. The reddit advice looks solid. I’d hire a team – lawyers, accountants, and possibly security.

Also lump sum and taxes will take more than half of that number. Still a good chunk :slight_smile:

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I don’t see how a few $MMM could “ruin my life”. Sure, I’d quit my job, though, if ~2% of assets gave me more income than I would from working all day.

I’m already semi-retired and frugal. It’s unlikely a major bump in my net worth at 51 would ruin my life. I would try to keep it a secret though. It wouldn’t be that hard to just pretend I live in hotels from miles and points wizardry anyway.

I’d probably annuitize a portion of it just in case it turns out I’m no different than the others.


Wow! Five hours and no one? Really? H&B, baby. :wink:


It was mentioned in the linked reddit post.

The Reddit thread ( https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/24vo34/whats_the_happiest_5word_sentence_you_could_hear/chb38xf/ ) has some stats and examples as to how winning the lottery ruins lives. Significant increases in probability to being a kidnapping or homicide victim, constant harassment from people wanting money, no longer being able to trust people you had previously considered friends, etc. One story is included of a businessman who already had a net worth of 15+ million, won over $114 million after taxes, pledged to live his life the same as before, and still had his life ruined.


What’s the best way to pull up old FWF content now? Using tips in Pulling up old Fatwallet content (Post requests for threads and tips here) I wasn’t able to find anything and (unless I missed it) Hosting Old FWF Content - #20 by WakesInc never happened.


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I would use a lawyer/trust/shill so that my identity would be kept secret.

It wouldn’t ruin my life as I’m close to FI right now and could be leading a much more extravagant/materialistic life, but that doesn’t have much appeal for me.

I would make sure my immediate family members had an annuity to take care of their basic needs. I would give a lot away to charity. I would outsource the things that I don’t particularly enjoy doing (and probably some of the things I do enjoy).

I would probably do some angel investing to keep things interesting.


I’m more interested in this than in what to do if I win the lotto.

Can we download the archive ourselves? Anyone??

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Yes, keeping the winnings a secret and annuitizing (real word?) the winnings does seem to be a lot of the crux of the Reddit thread. Would seem to help avoid a lot of the issues that lottery winners suffer.

Seems to me that the two keys here would be keeping anonymity, and setting up a process so that one can manage new temptations and problems in a thoughtful manner.


My solution to the temptation management was just getting older and having a family. Some of the vices of my past are just uninteresting to me now.


Last I checked, some states (like CA) don’t allow you to claim lottery winnings anonymously.


There are a handful of states that allow you to collect anonymously. In addition to those, there are some states that allow you to pay the lottery winnings to a trust.

Interesting. I wasn’t aware of that. I have heard of people assigning the winnings to a trust and/or a company to preserve their anonymity. A quick Google search didn’t turn up anything definitively on whether or not California allows that.

A recent court case may serve as a precedent to stopping compulsory disclosure of winners’ names. Case was in New Hampshire though:


If I won an 8-9 figure payout, it seems like a pretty straightforward exercise to just go claim the winnings in a state that allows anonymity or claiming via trust.

“Move” to an apartment and get a residential address there, if you have to.

Small potatoes in the face of preserving your privacy.


Two chicks at the same time.


I would look into that if I were you. It may be the state where you purchased the ticket whose rules apply.