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How does it really feel to win the lottery?

Mon 24 Oct 2016, By Dean Cromwell
The feel of a win

Love reading about the latest lottery winners? Then you’ve no doubt seen countless pictures of happy, smiling people with big checks. They may even be popping bottles of champagne while their friends and family look on with pride.

Yes, winning the lottery is an incredible feeling, but despite those happy images, most lottery winners are in shock.

For most people, instant wealth is overwhelming. These days, lottery jackpots are so big, that they really do change lives. The US Powerball is the perfect example. A few years ago, the idea of winning a jackpot over half-a-billion dollars was unthinkable. The Powerball not only beat that record, it almost obliterated it with $1 600 000 000 jackpot. Even though the prize was split between three ticket holders, they still walked away with an unbelievable $327 800 000.

With inflation, money tends to lose its value over time, but even winning $1 000 000 would make a difference in most people’s lives. You might not be able to quit your job, but if you invested it correctly, you could retire earlier. At the very least you’d be able to pay off some debts and save more money every month. At this point in time, having a million dollars in the bank doesn’t solve all your problems. So, can you imagine what it must feel like to have $327 800 000 in your bank account?

Someone who has some insight into what it’s like to be an instant multi-millionaire is Andy Carter. He’s one of the experts dispatched by the UK lottery operator, Camelot, to council new winners. He’s responsible for checking the ticket-holder’s identity and overseeing the transfer of the prize money. He’s been at the job for nine years, and he’s seen it all. According to Andy, only a small number of lottery winners rush out to spend their money or leave it untouched in their bank accounts.

As Andy puts it, ‘Winning the lottery doesn’t change people’s attitude about money, it exaggerates them’. It seems that most winners are shaken by their sudden fortune and realise that they need someone to advise them on how to handle it. Most of the winners he’s met with simply want to pay off their mortgage. And that’s probably a good place to start.

When someone wins a prize over £5 000 000, Camelot makes a team of financial advisors available to them. The winner can then contact these advisors, or seek advice elsewhere.  One of the advisors on the team provided by Camelot is Camilla Stowell. Camilla is the bank’s Head of Coverage for International and Private Office at Coutts, a private bank and wealth management company. According to Camilla, the first thing a lottery winner should do is clear their debts and draw up a will.

Camilla also cautions winners against buying a bigger property without considering the future costs it involves. And while it’s tempting to spoil friends and family with large sums of cash, this brings a new set of problems. That’s because, while lottery winnings aren’t taxed (this only applies to some lottery games), the income derived from winnings are subject to income tax. You may not be doing your friends any favours if you gift them a large sum that could attract more taxes.

Those who win lottery jackpots may need more than advice to help them get to grips with their new status. The financial world is full of jargon and complex concepts, so winners may need to educate themselves on financial matters. This takes time so winners are advised to adjust to their new circumstances before they make big financial decisions.

Many people play US lottery games consistently in the hopes that they’ll be the next big jackpot winner. But when it does finally happen, they don’t know how to feel about it. On the one hand, they’ve beaten incredible odds, but the thought of all that wealth can be frightening. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that it doesn’t take any skill to win the lottery. It’s simply a case of picking the winning lotto numbers. You might feel that you haven’t earned the money. Or, you might battle with the idea that, out of all the people who bought lottery tickets, your numbers were drawn.

When you win a big jackpot, such as the US Powerball, you know your life is going to change. And while most of us would be imagining luxury holidays and relishing the chance to quit our jobs, change is scary. We tend to get comfortable with our lives, and even if the change is a pleasant, we’re apprehensive about it. So how would you handle winning the lottery? Why not buy lottery tickets online for the next draw of your favourite lottery game, and see what happens?