What to do When you Win
It’s the moment every lottery player fantasizes about. You check your numbers and realize that you have correctly matched the numbers to win a multimillion-dollar jackpot prize, but what happens next? Here are some steps that you need to take to receive your winnings and key information to consider when you win the jackpot.
It’s important that you sign the back of your ticket immediately to prevent anyone else from claiming your prize. You should also make a photocopy, before stowing your ticket away in a secure location, such as a safe, until you are ready to claim your winnings.
How Long Do I Have to Claim?
The length of time that you have to claim a Mega Millions prize varies from state to state. The shortest claim period is 90 days in New Mexico and the longest claim period is one year in several states, including Oregon, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania. You can check the length of time you have to claim a Mega Millions prize in your state or jurisdiction on the Where to Claim page.
Who Should You Tell?
You’ve waited a lifetime to win the jackpot and the experience can be very overwhelming. You may want to tell all your friends and relatives, but you should think about holding off on sharing the news until you have contacted your local lottery office, confirmed the details and decided how you will deal with the good fortune.
You may also want to seek professional advice from a financial expert. Winning the jackpot can change your life for the better, but it can take a lot of planning and careful thought. It is important that you take your time to make decisions, and employing an attorney is advised.
Contact Your Lottery Office
Once you contact your nearest lottery office, they will ask you a set of questions to do with your ticket, checking the information against their records. After your ticket has been verified, a meeting will be arranged, and you will need to provide the physical ticket alongside relevant identification documents when visiting lottery officials. On meeting the claims team, you can ask for advice and they will complete the necessary paperwork.
Cash vs Annuity
When you win a Mega Millions jackpot, you have two options for receiving your winnings. You can either choose to receive a one-off cash lump sum or to accept the full value of the jackpot in annual instalments over 29 years. The best option for you depends on your own personal circumstances and varies from player to player. You can learn more about each option on the Cash vs Annuity page.
How Much Will You Pay in Taxes?
If you win a Mega Millions jackpot, you will have to pay federal taxes. A federal tax of 39.6 percent is due on all jackpot prizes. 25 percent is taken immediately before you receive your winnings and a further 14.6 percent is due at the end of the tax year. You may also be liable for state taxes. You can find out more about taxes on winnings on the Mega Millions Taxes page.
To Go Public or Stay Anonymous?
In most states, your identity becomes public record when you win the Mega Millions jackpot, and you will normally be expected to attend a press conference. At the press conference, you do not have to issue any statement, and some previous winners have even altered their appearance to help protect their identity.
There are six states that allow players to remain anonymous - Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina. Some players prefer to remain anonymous often citing protecting their privacy and family’s wellbeing as the reason.
There are also a certain number of states that allow players to claim their winnings via a trust fund. In this case, a lawyer will collect the winnings on your behalf. This option is preferred by many winners, as it can reduce the stress of dealing with such a large amount of money in the public eye.
Enjoy Your Winnings
Once you receive your Mega Millions jackpot and have consulted a financial professional for advice, you can then relax and enjoy your winnings. You may want to retire, buy a boat or take that vacation that you’ve always dreamed of. You can also provide financial security for your family, as well as make extravagant purchases and save money for the future.