COLUMBIA, Mo. —Â So you just won the $500Â million Powerball jackpot, the second highest in lottery history. Now what?
Perhaps it’s time for a tropical vacation or a new car. There are bills toÂ pay, loans to settle, debts to square.
Past winners of mega-lottery drawings and financial planners have some moreÂ sound advice: Stick to a budget, invest wisely, learn to say no and be preparedÂ to lose friends while riding an emotional roller-coaster of joy, anxiety, guiltÂ and distrust.
“I had to adapt to this new life, “said Sandra Hayes, 52, a former childÂ services social worker who split a $224 million Powerball jackpot with a dozenÂ co-workers in 2006, collecting a lump sum she said was in excess of $6 millionÂ after taxes. “I had to endure the greed and the need that people have, trying toÂ get you to release your money to them. That caused a lot of emotional pain.Â These are people who you’ve loved deep down, and they’re turning into vampiresÂ trying to suck the life out of me.”
She spent a week in Hawaii and bought a new Lexus, but six years later stillÂ shops at discount stores and lives on a fixed income – albeit, at a higherÂ monthly allowance than when she brought home paychecks of less than $500 aÂ week.
“I know a lot of people who won the lottery and are broke today,” she said.Â “If you’re not disciplined, you will go broke. I don’t care how much money youÂ have.”
Lottery agencies are keen to show off beaming prize-winners hugging oversizeÂ checks at celebratory news conferences, but the tales of big lottery winners whoÂ wind up in financial ruin, despair or both are increasingly common.
There’s the two-time New Jersey lottery winner who squandered her $5.4Â million fortune. A West Virginia man who won $315 million a decade ago onÂ Christmas later said the windfall was to blame for his granddaughter’s fatalÂ drug overdose, his divorce, hundreds of lawsuits and an absence of trueÂ friends.
The National Endowment for Financial Education cautions those who receive aÂ financial windfall – whether from lottery winnings, divorce settlements,Â cashed-out stock options or family inheritances – to plan for theirÂ psychological needs as well as their financial strategies. The Denver-basedÂ nonprofit estimates that as many as 70 percent of people who land suddenÂ windfalls lose that money within several years.
“Being able to manage your emotions before you do anything sudden is one ofÂ the biggest things,” said endowment spokesman Paul Golden. “If you’ve never hadÂ the comfort of financial security before, if you were really eking out a livingÂ from paycheck to paycheck, if you’ve never managed money before, it can beÂ really confusing. There’s this false belief that no matter what you do, you’reÂ never going to worry about money again.”
David Gehle, who spent 20 years at a Nebraska meatpacking plant before he andÂ seven ConAgra Foods co-workers won a $365 million Powerball jackpot in 2006,Â used some of his winnings to visit Australia, New Guinea and Vietnam. He leftÂ ConAgra three weeks after he won, and now spends his time woodworking andÂ playing racquetball, tennis and golf.
But most of his winnings are invested, and the 59-year-old still lives in hisÂ native Lincoln. He waited for several years before buying a $450,000 home in aÂ tidy neighborhood on the southern edge of town.
“My roots are in Nebraska, and I’m not all that much different now than I wasÂ before,” Gehle said. “I’m pretty normal. I never was the kind of guy who wentÂ for big, expensive cars or anything like that. I just want something thatÂ runs.”
In the first year after he won, Michael Terpstra would awaken many nights inÂ a panic. Had he slept in? Was he late to work the night shift?
“At times I’d wake up and this would all seem like a dream,” the 54-year-oldÂ said. “I’d have to walk around the house and tell myself, I did win. I’m notÂ working anymore, and I do live here. I didn’t get drunk, break into someone’sÂ house and go to sleep. This is where I’m supposed to be.”
His new home is a roomy, two-story house in south Lincoln with a big-screenÂ television and paintings of Jesus on the walls. He no longer uses alarm clocksÂ and spends his days taking his 92-pound black lab, Rocco, on walks.
He was terrified when he first won, convinced that he would lose all of theÂ money and have to return to work. So he lives carefully off the interest fromÂ conservative investments, with help from accountants and lawyers. He bought theÂ new house and a truck, but struggles to name any extravagant purchases.
“I can’t buy a super yacht. I can’t buy a Gulfstream,” he said. “Then again,Â I don’t think I’d use either one, so why would I buy one?”
That said, some mega-winners still can’t resist the lure of big jackpots, atÂ least not the two-buck chances. On Tuesday, former ConAgra worker Dung Tran, aÂ Vietnamese immigrant, walked into the same Lincoln U-Stop where he purchased theÂ winning ticket six years ago and bought 22 more from the very employee who soldÂ him the first prize-winner, said cashier Janice Mitzner.
“We joked about it,” she said. “I told him, ‘Wouldn’t it be something if youÂ won again?'”
Hayes is also hoping to strike rich again – she bought 10 tickets at a DirtÂ Cheap liquor store on her way home Tuesday while speaking with an AssociatedÂ Press reporter. Unlike many big winners, she has kept a visible public profileÂ instead of going underground, appearing on a 2007 reality TV show (“MillionÂ Dollar Christmas”), writing an online Life After the Lottery blog andÂ self-publishing a short book, “How Winning the Lottery Changed My Life.”
“We have this drawing tomorrow, and if somebody wins, God bless them,” sheÂ said. “They’re going to need those blessings.”
Source: Fox News