What to Do With a Lottery Jackpot

Whether it’s winning the lottery or backing the right horse in an IPO, it’s human nature to daydream about what one would do with a massive windfall. That’s why the term jackpot has become a broadened financial definition, referring to any large and unexpected win. The most popular example of a jackpot is getting in on a stock in the initial public offering that soars to a sky-high share price. The winner can then cash out with a substantial profit.

But how does a prize grow to be so massive? In part, it’s just luck. But it’s also due to rising interest rates, which increase the size of an annuity payout over decades. The result is that jackpots are growing more quickly than in the past.

While it’s tempting to spend a windfall like this, most experts suggest that lottery winners first get a financial plan in place and seek out the advice of an attorney, wealth management adviser and accountant. And don’t forget that the IRS counts a jackpot as income, so it can push you into a higher tax bracket.

If you are lucky enough to hit a big lottery jackpot, Becker suggests keeping the ticket in a safe place where it won’t be lost or stolen. She says some people put it in a safe at home, in their wallet or in a safe deposit box at the bank. You should keep the ticket in a safe spot that is accessible to you, but not too easy to access.