There are just a few things every Powerball player should know about cashing in an official Powerball prize.
The only thing more exciting about buying a Powerball ticket is realizing you’re a winner. And when you first experience that feeling of matching your numbers to those drawn, it’s downright magical. But in that moment, you could inadvertently make a host of mistakes, some of which could cost you dearly. So, to help you prepare now for that incredible moment when you first realize you’ve won, here are a few mission-critical things you should do before cashing in your ticket and claiming your prize.
1. Sign Your Ticket
Once the shock wears off after recognizing that your Powerball ticket is a winner, sign it. Pick a corner and scribble your legible name. There are countless stories over the years of Powerball winners whose friends and family stole the winning ticket and claimed it as their own. While you might not feel you’re at risk of such a scenario, signing your ticket is just an added layer of protection, just in case.
2. Don’t Tell People
With all that excitement and enthusiasm, you feel like screaming from the rooftops about your win. You’ll be eager to call family and friends. You might even want to post on social media. But don’t do it. Keep your good fortune to yourself for as long as you can. And you especially want to keep your incredible news under wraps while the ticket is still in your possession. In this moment, your jackpot isn’t claimed, and anyone can target you and your winning ticket. Don’t put yourself in unnecessary danger and keep your big-win news to yourself until the money is officially in the bank. And even then, you might decide to maintain a low profile.
3. Protect Your Ticket
There could be several hours, days, or even weeks that pass between the moment you match your Powerball numbers to when you collect your prize. During that transition period, a lot can happen to you and your ticket. So, take the steps you need to now to protect that magical slip of paper worth millions later. Keep it in a safe. Hide it in a memorable yet inconspicuous space. And don’t reveal its hiding place to anyone.
4. Consult and Assemble Your Team of Advisors
Before you rush over to your local lottery office to claim your prize, you’ll have some heavy decisions to make. Should you take the reduced lump sum or opt for the annuity payments? Should you invest your winnings or just put it all in a savings account? Because your financial life is about to change, you need to get the advice of savvy professionals who can help you make these difficult decisions. Take the time you have now to reach out and assemble the team of advisors you need. Find a financial advisor, a lawyer, and a personal banker you trust. Then you can make educated decisions about any next steps you plan to take.
5. Don’t Spend a Dime
With the thought of all those extra zeros in your bank account, you might feel generous and liberal about paying off some bills or splurging on a big, fancy dinner. Don’t do it just yet. Keep your hard-earned money where it is until you’ve successfully deposited your Powerball jackpot prize. Unfortunately, mistakes happen. Some people head over to collect their winnings, only to learn they’ve misread or misinterpreted their ticket. You don’t want to go spending a slew of your own cash, thinking you’ll be getting a windfall, only to learn there won’t be a windfall coming.
If you’re holding a winning Powerball ticket, congratulations! And before you do anything else, consider these tips. Take the steps you need to take to protect yourself and your ticket before heading over to collect your winnings.