1. Hold on to that Ticket! ๐ŸŽซ

The first thing to do is put your winning ticket in a very safe place. Don't go rushing to claim your prize just yet. Give yourself some time to process what just happened and come up with a plan. The last thing you want is to make an impulse decision you'll regret later. ๐Ÿ’ญ

2. Assemble the Dream Team ๐Ÿ‘ฅ

Even if you're great at budgeting your regular income, managing millions requires expertise. Hire a financial advisor, accountant and lawyer to help navigate taxes, investments and more. Have them meet together to develop the best long-term strategy for your jackpot. ๐Ÿ’ฐ

3. Pay off Pesky Debts ๐Ÿ’ณ

Get rid of any loans hanging over your head like credit cards or student loans. One less thing to worry about means more freedom to enjoy your winnings down the road. ๐Ÿš—

4. Keep your Day Job - For Now ๐Ÿ‘”

As tempting as it is to quit on the spot, stay employed until the money is safely in your account. No sense burning bridges if things don't go exactly as planned! ๐Ÿ”ฅ

5. Uncle Sam Gets His Cut ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ

Sorry, there's no avoiding taxes on your windfall. The IRS takes an initial chunk and you'll owe more depending on how much you earned that year. Tackle taxes right away to cross it off your to-do list. ๐Ÿ“

6. Treat Yourself - Within Reason ๐Ÿพ

Go ahead and buy a few fun indulgences to celebrate your luck! Just be sure to set a realistic budget and don't go overboard before the planning starts. ๐Ÿ’ธ

7. Save for the Future ๐Ÿ’ฐ

While it's fun to splash out now, put away at least half long-term to ensure financial security for decades to come. Investments, kids' college funds - plan for it all. ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ฆ

8. Enjoy the Ride - Safely ๐Ÿš—

With a smart strategy in place, relax and make the most of your new means. Just be wary of freeloading 'friends' looking for a handout. ๐Ÿ™…

9. Take a Holiday ๐Ÿ–๏ธ

Quitting your job, dodging endless begging requests, dealing with financial advisors, hiring an attorney all of this is stressful, and if you're not careful, it can easily sap the joy of your windfall. So take a break. Book a far-flung destination to somewhere exotic, turn off your phone, and relax. The money will still be there when you get back. For now, just breathe. ๐Ÿง˜โ€โ™‚๏ธ

10. Play again? ๐ŸŽฐ

Consider yourself lucky if it's a one-time win. But if you must scratch again, do so responsibly with money set aside just for fun. ๐Ÿ’ธ

๐Ÿ“ฎFAQ

Some Frequently Asked Questions.

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The very first thing you should do is sign the back of your lottery ticket. Then put it in a safe place and take time to process your win before claiming your prize or telling anyone.

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Most lottery tickets expire after 180 days, so you need to claim your prize within 6 months of the drawing date. Check your local lottery rules for the exact expiration period.

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Most financial experts recommend taking the lump sum payment rather than annual installments. This is because you can start investing the full amount right away and potentially earn more over time.

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Lottery winnings are taxed as ordinary income. For federal taxes, you may owe up to 37% depending on your annual income and filing status. Many states also collect 5-10% in state income taxes on lottery prizes.

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The largest lottery jackpot ever won was the $1.586 billion Powerball prize in 2016. It was shared by winners in California, Florida and Tennessee. The second largest was a $1.537 billion Mega Millions jackpot in 2018 won by one ticket in South Carolina.

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A few states like Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina allow lottery winners to remain anonymous. But in most other places, lottery rules require releasing the winner's name, city and amount won to promote transparency.

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Pay off debts, hire financial planners, invest in low-risk mutual funds, consider real estate, save for kids' education, contribute to retirement funds, consider starting a business, budget for future expenses like healthcare, leave some for enjoyment.

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