Preaching the Lottery Winner's Gospel Around The World

By: Don McNay
By: Don McNay

Whenever a jackpot hits record highs, like the Mega Millions lottery did last week, the book climbs to the top of the Amazon charts and I do non stop media appearances. I did over 30 in three days. I did more international appearances, like BBC, than I did local. Being interviewed by the Associated Press and Los Angeles Times got the story in nearly every publication in the world.

Where I was born, where I was raised.
Where I keep all my yesterdays.

This is my town

 

-Montgomery Gentry

 

I met my fellow Kentuckian,  Eddie Montgomery,  in the green room of the CBS Morning News in New York.  Both of us were getting ready to make a live appearance.

 

It was that kind of week.    CBS had flown me to New York and on two hours sleep,  I was  being interviewed on set by anchor Rebecca Jarvis,  a former CNBC anchor who had I long admired.

 

It was the best interview of my life.    You can watch the link at Don McNay interviewed on CBS Morning News in NYC 

 

In 2008, I wrote a book called Son of a Son of a Gambler: Winners, Losers and What To Do When You Win The Lottery.  Which topped the Amazon best seller lists in several categories last week.

 

Whenever a jackpot hits record highs, like the Mega Millions lottery did last week, the book climbs to the top of the Amazon charts and I do non stop media appearances.   I did over 30 in three days. I did more international appearances, like BBC, than I did local.  Being interviewed by the Associated Press and Los Angeles Times got the story in nearly every publication in the world.

 

I just hope that someone is listening to my advice.

 

Those are five simple rules that about 90% of lottery winners don't follow . . . to their everlasting regret.

 

1. Tell as few people as possible (preferably no one) that you won.

 

Two of three Mega Millions winners live in states, (Maryland and Kansas), that allow winners to collect anonymously.  I hope they do.

 

 If you can keep your jackpot quiet, do so.  As I told Rebecca Jarvis during an interview on CBS Morning News last Saturday, "Once you have told the world that you received money that you never expected to have, everyone has his hand out and you are not prepared for it."

 

I once told a young, single, and publicly-known lottery winner that he just became the best looking man in his city.  He was realistic enough to know that wasn't really the case.

 

2. Take a deep breath and make some good, long-term decisions.  You don't have to cash the ticket today.

 

Some people can't wait to cash their ticket.  There have been stories about people camping out in front of lottery offices overnight with the winning ticket.

 

Most lotteries allow you several months or a year to cash a winning ticket.  The money will still be there in a month or so.  Take some time to figure out what you are going to do with the money and how you are going to do it.

 

3. Work with advisors who work with more money than you have

 

There are financial advisors, estate planning attorneys and trust officers who have worked with $100,000,000 or more.  The scorekeeper for your local bowling league is not one of them.   People will often hire a friend as opposed to someone who really knows about big money.    

 

A good friend would tell you the situation is too complicated for him and help you find some real experts.  A lottery winner has tax, estate and financial planning issues that he didn't have the week before.

 

4.  Take the annual payments, not the lump sum.

 

Roughly 98% of all lottery winners ignore this advice, but I continue to preach the mantra.   Taking the payments over time allow you to adjust to having the money coming in on a gradual basis.  If you make mistakes and lose all your money the first few years, you have 20 or more future opportunities to get it right. 

 

In some situations, there may also be some tax advantages to taking the money over time since you are taxed on the money as you receive it.  That may not be relevant with $100 million since that person is always going to be in the highest tax bracket.  But a person who wins one million and takes $50,000 a year might be able to save overall.

 

5. Give back to society.

 

There are many people who have accumulated great wealth.  Rockefeller and Carnegie in the 20th Century come to mind, as do this century's Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, who are giving away most of their money during their lifetimes.  People who use their wealth to make an impact on society are far happier than those who use it to show off to the neighbors. 

 

There are at least three people who need this advice as soon as possible.  I hope they hear it . . . and follow it.

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