What to do when you win the lottery. Photo: Adobe Stock ImagesCredit: LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS - stock.adobe

If you could win the lottery right now, what would you do about it?

The lottery outside of sports, is a national pastime. It’s the most popular form of gambling in the U.S. With just $1 or $2 you could walk away with a big pay out despite chances being very slim. Unfortunately, there are many who have suffered the “rags to riches to rags” story and either have gone broke or bankrupt after winning.

Can you believe it? Couldn’t be you right?

It seems easier said than done, but collecting a large sum of money when you’ve never managed such amounts of funds can lead you down a rabbit hole of problems.

If you find yourself lucky with a lucky lottery ticket, the goal is to think long term, and requires a solid foundation and a strong game plan. Eszylfie Taylor, founder and president of Taylor Insurance and Financial is known as Hollywood’s Top Financial Advisor, helping celebrities, sports legends, and Fortune 500 companies navigate the challenges in the world of finance.

He spoke to the Defender and shared a few recommendations you might need if you become a lottery ticket winner.

Defender: Why is it easy for someone to go broke when they win the lottery?

Taylor: Winning the lottery in itself is like a blessing and a curse. Many people lose their money due to poor management of money, risky investments, and excessive spending. Often times there’s pressure to share the earnings with friends and family or the excitement of winning clouds their judgement and the person buys expensive things or liabilities that they once couldn’t afford. Those things will make you fall into a deeper trap of paying more bills over time.

Defender: The chances of winning the lottery are slim. If an individual doesn’t win, what should they consider with the money they have right now?

Taylor: There is a much greater likelihood that you’re going to become a millionaire by saving money and investing your own money versus playing the Powerball. What will truly pay dividends will be the work you put in on the things you can actually control.

Defender: You’ve helped many celebrities with managing their finances. What advice to you give them that could apply to everyday people?

Taylor: I tell people off the jump, pay yourself first. It’s how much money you can keep. When you buy these liabilities and sort out your expenses first, my contention is that you just worked for free because none of the money you made is going to accounts meant to build wealth for you. If you do that long enough, your interest can pay your bills and cover your expenses. That is how I define financial security.

You need to start with the end in mind. You have to plan. Where do you want to be? Work with a professional that will help you devise a plan. As a financial advisor most of my clients comes from referrals. The best thing to do if you don’t have an advisor is to be proactive. Talk to a couple of them and figure out who meets your needs.

Managing your money properly and surrounding yourself with a good team around you to make the right decision. No enablers.

Diversify your money. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If one investment losses money, you will have another to make up for the loss. This strategy will help to reduce risk.

Experts also suggest the following steps prior to claiming your ticket:

  1. Secure the ticket: Make photocopies of the ticket. Put it in a safety deposit box.
  2. Keep Quiet: It is natural for someone to share good news to family, friends, and the general public, but when it comes to large lottery winnings, you need to keep quiet. Line all of your duck in the row before you go public.
  3. Hire an Attorney: It’s important to protect your assets you need a lawyer to help you wade through the legalities of claiming the prize without making costly mistakes. They can help you with navigating taxes, estate planning trust funds, and protection of assets.
  4. Find a good investment firm: If you have millions, it only makes sense continue growing it.
  5. Lay low: Changing your phone number, email address, deleting social media accounts and moving correspondence to a P.O Box for privacy is important. Staying away from media outlet during a lottery win is tough. It will make it difficult for unwanted people searching for you.

Laura Onyeneho

I cover Houston's education system as it relates to the Black community for the Defender as a Report for America corps member. I'm a multimedia journalist and have reported on social, cultural, lifestyle,...