When a lottery jackpot hits a record-setting amount, it makes headlines and piques the curiosity of many people. It’s a life-changing sum that can buy a luxury home, travel the world or close debts. But how do you make the most of this opportunity? Forbes spoke with Richard Lustig, a former lottery winner who knows what it takes to turn a dream into reality.
His strategy starts with selecting a set of numbers—a ritual that requires careful thought and gut feeling. Next, he looks for other ways to improve his odds of winning. For example, buying multiple tickets can help improve your chances of winning. However, it’s important to pick a different set of numbers each time—or you won’t improve your odds at all.
Lastly, he recommends seeking out experts to help with the sifting through the offers that come flooding in. He says it’s also a good idea to keep your name out of the news and tell as few people as possible. This will protect you from scammers and long-lost friends who just want to cash in on your windfall.
It’s also worth pointing out that advertised lottery jackpots don’t necessarily have the full amount sitting in a vault. They’re calculated based on what you’d receive if the prize pool were invested in an annuity over decades, whereas lottery winners who choose lump-sum payouts only get 1/3 of the advertised jackpot, before income taxes. That’s why it’s crucial to have a team of professionals—attorney, accountant and financial planner—by your side to ensure that you’re making the best decision for your situation.