If you win the Powerball jackpot there are a number of important steps to follow. You will be guided through the process by lottery officials, but the first thing you need to do is claim your prize and have your ticket validated. You may be required to attend a press conference and will have to decide whether to accept your money as an annuity or a one-off cash payment. Read here all about what happens when you win Powerball.
If you win a Powerball jackpot, it is important to know the length of time you have to claim a prize. This varies from state to state, ranging from 90 days in New Mexico to a year in several states. Visit the How to Claim page to view a full list of the participating jurisdictions and the claim period for each one. Any Powerball prize must be claimed in the state in which you bought your ticket.
Make sure to keep your ticket safe and sign the back of it until you are ready to come forward. You may wish to see an attorney or financial advisor first, and you should then contact the relevant state lottery and inform them that you have a winning ticket. The officials will ask you a series of simple questions about your ticket and check the information you provide against their own records, before setting up a meeting to validate the ticket.
This meeting will be arranged at a suitable time, and you will be asked to provide identification as well as your winning ticket. The lottery officials will complete the relevant paperwork and you will be able to ask for expert advice.
It is your prerogative to tell whoever you want about your win, and winners have taken very different approaches in the past. Tennessee couple John and Lisa Robinson, who won one third of the record $1.58 billion Powerball jackpot in January 2016, went on the Today show before verifying their ticket with lottery officials. Marvin and Mae Acosta from California, winners in the same draw, didn’t come forward to claim their prize until six months later, after they had consulted a professional financial advisor to plan what they would do with their newfound wealth.
Before the money can be transferred to your account, you need to decide how you would like to be paid. Powerball winners can decide whether to accept the full amount in annual instalments over 30 years or accept a one-off lump sum. Take a look at the Cash Vs Annuity page to find out more. If you win the Powerball jackpot, you have to pay tax regardless of which option you choose.
Players should be aware that there is an immediate federal tax withholding of 24 percent for any winnings over $5,000, and the top federal graduated tax rate is 37 percent. You can check out the Powerball Taxes page for more information.
There are a growing number of states in which you are allowed to remain anonymous when you win the lottery - Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming all allow winners to shield their identities. In some of these states there are conditions, where you must have won a certain amount to be able to stay private. Winners in Puerto Rico can also remain anonymous.
In other states, it is a condition of playing that the identity of winners is revealed, and it is customary for a press conference to be held. However, you are not required to speak at the press conference and some winners prefer to alter their appearance so they are not so easily recognized. Only your name and place of residence (your town or city) will be made public; all other personal information will not be disclosed.
A number of states also allow winners to claim their money through a trust fund or limited liability company, where a ‘lottery lawyer’ would come forward on your behalf, thus maintaining your anonymity. Of course, some winners embrace the publicity as it can help with business opportunities or charitable causes, and can take away the stress of having to live with such a big secret.
Once the news has sunk in, you have received your money and considered the issue of publicity, you can start to enjoy your winnings. You should consult a financial expert for advice but it is up to you how to use your money, now that you are richer than some celebrities. The minimum Powerball jackpot is $20 million (*Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the starting jackpot may be lower than this), the same amount that Beyoncé once reportedly spent on a private jet for Jay-Z, so you could buy something similarly extravagant, move into the house of your dreams or travel the world in style, all while providing financial security for life for you and your loves ones.