If You Win a Jackpot
Do all of your numbers match those drawn? Sit down and take a few deep breaths — your life may never be the same again. However, before you shout your good news from the rooftop or quit your job, do some serious thinking and go through the following steps:
- Take your time on important decisions.
- This is the most important thing to remember. During a huge life change, it is crucial that you remain calm, take your time and don't make rash decisions like quitting your job or moving to another state. You will have a lot of decisions to make, and you want to be sure they are the best decisions.
- The great news is you probably have more options and choices than ever before! And according to 97 percent of our past jackpot winners, the experience has been a very positive one.
- For more information about claiming your prize or the process, call the Missouri Lottery headquarters at (573) 751-4050 and ask to speak to the Game Accounting Manager.
- Sign your ticket* and keep it secure.
- Before you do anything else, sign the back of your ticket and put it in a safe place. Your ticket is your only claim for the prize. We recommend a locked box or a safe deposit box.
- Mum's the word.
- Tell the fewest people possible. Good news spreads fast, and you may have news media coming to your door or people calling before you have a chance to place your claim or put your ticket in a safe place.
Visit the Missouri Lottery Headquarters in Jefferson City during regular business hours.
You will be greeted at Lottery Headquarters by one of our customer service representatives and given instructions. If you haven't done so already, you will fill out a Missouri Lottery claim form and IRS Form W-9 — Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification since your prize is over $600. You will also receive additional paperwork from Game Accounting to complete. If you have any questions about your claim or your prize, this is the time to ask Missouri Lottery Game Accounting personnel.
- Get sound advice.
- Get professional tax and/or legal advice to help you decide the best way for you to claim your prize. When you Contact Us to claim your prize, you will have to do two things:
Decide how you will claim your prize.
- No matter which payment plan you choose, the Lottery will withhold federal and state taxes at current withholding levels from your prize payment. You may owe additional taxes depending upon your other income, etc.
- You have 180 days from the draw date to claim your prize.
- You may add claimants to your prize for up to four (4) business days from the claiming date.
- Decide how you will receive your jackpot money.
- If you win the Lotto jackpot, you can choose to receive the full amount in 25 annual payments, minus taxes, or you can receive approximately one-half the advertised prize amount in one lump payment, minus taxes. The lump-sum cash payment is about half of the advertised prize amount since you immediately get the money the Lottery would have invested during the next 25 years.
- If you win the Powerball jackpot, you can choose to receive the full amount in 30 graduated annuity payments throughout 29 years, minus taxes, or you can receive approximately one-half the advertised prize amount in one lump payment, minus taxes. Again, the lump-sum cash payment is about half of the advertised prize amount since you immediately get the money the Lottery would have invested during the next 29 years.
- If you win the Mega Millions jackpot, you can choose to receive the full amount in 30 graduated annuity payments throughout 29 years, minus taxes, or you can receive approximately one-half the advertised prize amount in one lump payment, minus taxes. Again, the lump-sum cash payment is about half of the advertised prize amount since you immediately get the money the Lottery would have invested during the next 29 years.
- Scratchers game prizes may also have an annuity option.
- Note: You have exactly 60 days from the claiming date to choose the cash option. If you haven't made a decision by that time, the prize will automatically be paid out in 25 annual payments (Lotto), 30 annual payments (Powerball) or 29 annual payments (Mega Millions).
Note: Only Powerball and Mega Millions jackpot wins are required to be claimed at Lottery Headquarters; other wins may be claimed at any Missouri Lottery office.
- Do you want to participate in a news conference?
- At the Lottery Headquarters, a member of the Lottery's communications staff will ask you questions about your win, such as how many tickets you bought, when you found out that you won and what you plan to do with your prize money. This information will be used for a news release.
- You will also be asked, but are not required, to participate in a news conference, most likely at the store where you purchased your winning ticket. News conferences can also be held at a Lottery office. This provides the media with a single photo opportunity and a chance for them to ask you a few questions without having each of them contact you at home or at work.
- You want to do a news conference. News conferences normally only last about 15 minutes and are held within a couple of days after your ticket validates. Your ticket is not considered validated until it passes confidential validation requirements at the Lottery's office in Jefferson City, usually within a couple of days after you place your claim. Keep in mind that your news conference should be a lot of fun, like weddings and other happy ceremonies.
- You don't want to do a news conference. It's your decision whether or not to participate in a news conference. However, your name and hometown are considered public information, and they will be released to the media. Not only is this information public by law, publishing it is necessary to ensure the integrity of the Lottery's games. If players were never provided with actual names, they may not believe the games are real or fair. If you choose not to do a news conference, the media may still attempt to contact you at home or your place of employment.
- Once your ticket is in safe hands, you can relax for a while. The Lotto prize process takes approximately 10-14 days to complete. The Powerball and Mega Millions process, since other state lotteries are involved, takes approximately 14-21 working days to complete. Within the next few weeks, you will be adding thousands or maybe millions of dollars to your bank or investment account. At this point, it's okay to do some serious dreaming. A new house? A special car? College for the kids or grandkids? A trip to Tahiti?
- Some other things to consider.
- You may want to change your telephone number or begin screening your calls. After people hear that you've won, you may receive calls from friends who want to congratulate you or sales people who have heard about your good fortune. Remember to give any new telephone numbers to the Missouri Lottery, so staff members can contact you about any tax or law changes, etc.
- Depending on the amount of your jackpot, you may want to stay away from your home for a few days. If you've won a significant amount that has drawn national attention, the media may try to track you down at home for the story. Amounts of $50 million or less probably won't cause a great deal of media frenzy.
- Before you start to invest or spend your money, you should stop and think about what matters most to you. The Secretary of State's Office offers a Managing Windfalls publication that provides guidelines for protecting your new wealth and ensuring that your windfall helps you secure a more comfortable life. They also offer The 3 Knows of Investing publication, which reviews goal setting, selecting an investment advisor and investment options.
*The Missouri Lottery is not liable for any lost, stolen or damaged tickets.