A retired Midwestern couple raked in millions of dollars by exploiting a loophole in a lottery game. Their wild story gets the big-screen treatment in “Jerry and Marge Go Large,” which debuts Friday on Paramount+. But despite the big jackpots, lotteries can be a risky investment, even for experts. “If you want to make a long-term income, it’s not the best way to go,” said one personal finance expert. “It’s a better idea to invest your winnings in low-risk investments.”
Most people think that when they buy a lottery ticket, they’re doing good. After all, a portion of the proceeds goes to state coffers, so “even if you lose, it’s still helping people and children,” as one man put it to The Atlantic in a recent story. But the truth is that state lotteries are profitable for only a small percentage of ticket sales.
The rest of the money is paid to lottery retailers who earn commissions for selling tickets and rewards or bonuses for cashing jackpot-winning tickets. In addition, a portion of the funds goes to the state’s overhead expenses for things like staff salaries, advertising, and website maintenance.
It’s no surprise that most lottery winners end up spending their winnings. Surveys show that 65% of them put some of their money into savings or investments, while the rest is used for household expenses, bills, travel and charity. For some, it’s also important to set up an emergency fund. To do this, you can consult a professional finance manager who can help you figure out how much you’ll need to retire comfortably and cover medical bills and other unexpected costs.