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Friday
Jun072013

What This 84 Year-Old $590 Million Powerball Winner Did Wrong

Newspaper and internet media photos showed a composed, slightly smiling older woman being shepherded from the lottery office.

She looked fairly relaxed for someone who decided to receive her winnings in a lump-sum payment... an astounding $370.8 million before taxes.

The woman behind the second largest USA Powerball jackpot did a few things right when claiming her prize.

But a few things wrong too. The 84 year-old Florida woman will have a few problems over her win, and here's one of them:

She revealed her identity.

PROOF OF WINNINGS

Now, many lottery organisations require winners to be publicly identified. That's so they can prove that their winnings are going to real people.

But a few minutes on my website should have shown her some clever ways around that.

1. She could have had her ticket claimed by a representative... her lawyer or finance advisor. Big jackpot winners in many states and countries are often forced to give their names and hometowns as part of the legal requirement to claim the prize. But the publicity can be reduced by using a stand-in for the photo. There's less chance of being recognized in public.

2. Her representatives could have negotiated terms with lottery officials. For example, if there was good reason why she wouldn’t want publicity, then they may not require her to to give a news conference. But she needs to have a good reason - remember it's important to them to have the winner's name and face out there.

3. Extreme step - she could have worn a mask when she showed up for the publicity photo. Though this is not commonly done in the USA, it is often seen in Europe and Asian countries like China and Singapore.

But what happens after the win? It gets even worse with the media hounding her every step.

BECOME INVISIBLE

This is what she should be doing:

1. Cancelling all her phone accounts. She should get new numbers, or change her phone number to an unlisted one. Remember, she can now afford to throw her new iPhone away and buy another every day if necessary.

2. Leave her home... the modest grey duplex she owns that backs up to a dirt alley across from a cow pasture. And she should rent or buy a home in another city under another name. This MAY work, but remember media are skilled at getting information and will track her down - particularly a jackpot win this large.

3. Give no interviews to the media. Most interviewers don't play by the winner's rules, and will skillfully hound them for information they may not want to reveal. So far she hasn't done this, so that's a good sign.

4. Ignore requests of all sorts. She will get thousands of begging letters. But she doesn't have to open them. She should get them disposed of by a commercial document destruction center.

 

It's exciting to think of all the opportunities a major win will bring.

But it's also important to protect yourself against the growing number of people who want a bit of your prize money for themselves.