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

That’s it? If you had a million dollars, that’s what you’d do, two chicks at the same time?


As a practical matter, not really something I’m too worried about :wink:

But I suppose it is an interesting question about what the redemption requirements are (in terms of where you have to redeem the prize) for the big multi-state lotteries.

For that kind of money, I’d change my name and then change it back. A juiced-in local lawyer could walk the petition through in a day.


It would be ridiculously cool to see my buying power in IB workstation update. You could buy a small micro cap with a few clicks, liquidity notwithstanding.


This whole thread is not a practical matter. :grinning:

1 Like

With $502M you could do two chicks at the same time, 502 times!


That great reference made me feel old. Office Space came out 19 years ago already, sheesh! :slight_smile:

1 Like

I can see how it can run some people’s lives. I meant I didn’t see too much money as a problem for me. I’d just move up early retirement to much earlier (immediate?), start out by 100% traveling, and find some hobbies, while keeping my spending too 4-5% max. (Yes, 5% had a very low chance of drawing down assets, but I’d adjust spending based on current assets).

The identity/security angle is there like you point out, but I’m not sure how that’s different from “anyone else” with that much in assets.

I think it’s a combination of lots of other people, often with bad intent, knowing you’re rich and a bunch of relatives knowing you’re rich and “you didn’t earn it” so they feel more free to bother you for a handout. If you were working 100 hours a week busting your ass to earn some good money and some slacker relative asked you to buy them a house, you probably would have no problem telling them where to stuff it and to get a job. It might be harder if someone randomly dumped $100M in your lap, not that you shouldn’t respond the same way.


Strategies for not having a windfall ruin your life:
Rule #1: Don’t talk about fight club.
Rule #2: Don’t talk about fight club.

@DaveHanson, I’m showing my age here too. Another classic.

In all seriousness though, if you come into a windfall, spend the first year not changing anything. This is great advice I’ve heard already on FW from a similar thread. Keep you house. Keep your cars. Keep your job. Spend your free time reading, interviewing and learning about what to do and how to manage your new wealth. Spend the first year knowing you are financially free but don’t breath a word of it to anyone except your lawyer and how to protect yourself. When you come into a million dollars, no big deal. When you come into 502 million dollars, vet and suspect everyone.

Once you have a few plans in place, diversify. Invest in real estate. Invest in markets. Invest in private lending. Figure out what you plan to spend for the rest of your life conservatively and put a good chunk in annuities so in case everything else fails, you’re still covered. I imagine that coming into that kind of money truly could ruin your life if you don’t know how to handle it. Learn wealth management, but equally important, learn how to read people so they don’t take advantage of you.

I think a lot of us are the kind of people who work hard and slowly and meticulously build wealth over decades by living below their means. I think those kinds of people are at the least risk of having a large windfall ruin their life.


Bingo. These people have been conditioned already to control their operating expenses on a monthly basis and figure out how to grow their investments. This would just accelerate financial goals.

1 Like

Let’s talk about the kind of people who regularly play the lotto. There are people who treat it seriously as a form of their retirement/investments. No surprise when they win they ruin it.


Right. Consistently doing something with negative expected value does not correlate strongly with handling money well.


I thankfully don’t have any close friends/family that does that (at least none that I know of). Don’t know how I’d convince them to stop though as the allure of millions to a math-challenged and/or irrational person can be a pretty tough nut to crack.

I’ve always thought I would just forgo the lump-sum, and take the annual payouts instead as a way to forcefully restrict my spending of it. Also makes it easier to deny extended family members large sums when you can say, “Really, I’m only getting ~8 million a year”. Though, I’m sure there are companies that would de-annuitize it for you.

Any reason not to take it this way? Don’t feel like you really need to maximize your investment strategy when you have this big a payout. Better to play it safer.

An idea to get family off your back would be to take $50k per family member under 30 and put it in a 529 (or tell them to give you their student loan bill and pay it off) before anyone asks for a dime. Essentially, put it out there that you’ll pay for everyone’s first 4 years of college, but everything else is on them. And of course, if someone gets cancer, offer to help out with those costs.

1 Like

I won’t lie–I’ve played the lotto many times. However, the difference between someone like me and someone who plays regularly is simple. I “know” I won’t win. They think they will.

I’ve had fun conversations with my family members and my wife about what we would do, who would get what sum of money, where we would go, etc. However, that’s all a $2 ticket is. It’s a conversation starter. A time killer.

If I won some huge (hundreds of millions) sum, I’d take the lump sum, dump over half of it into a trust for my kid, pay off all my family’s debts and give them an extra $500k to do whatever they please with (taxes on me), and then go buy a luxury vacation home in each of the places I favor the most (probably five or six in total). Before doing any of the above, I would get a lawyer and financial adviser/accountant on staff immediately. I’d also think about how to utilize insurance such as umbrella, auto, homeowners to the most of my ability. Not sure what I’d do about life insurance–probably cancel it as it wouldn’t be worth the premium if I setup a trust correctly.

I’m sure I’d spend a few million on cars, but that’s because I have a hobbyist interest in cars, not because I want to “ball out with a lambo, yo.” Perhaps look into a private jet and/or buying into a private jet charter company so I can use it, and it’d be a partial investment.

I think travelling anywhere/everywhere would be the primary goal, above the aforementioned houses. Then once I’m sick of traveling, I’d be able to bounce from house to house to keep it fresh, without all of the hassle of living in hotels.


I thought about that, and last I looked into changing your name, it requires a court order, and the court (judge) requires a legitimate reason. Skirting the state’s rules that prohibit anonymous lottery claims wouldn’t be a legitimate reason. I suppose preventing harassment and solicitation might be, per the NH ruling, but it doesn’t set a precedent.

You could always change it after. A name is just a name,

I’d like to think I’m already traveling all the time like a lottery winner, I just fly commercial and stay in cheaper hotels with miles/points :slight_smile: