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Open Letter to a Lottery Winner

Perhaps you’ve seen recent news about a billion-dollar lottery. This open letter to the lottery winner offers some advice for any of us who suddenly comes into a meaningful amount of money, whether through an inheritance, through a business transaction, or through any other means, including the State’s gambling operations.

Dear Lottery Winner,

Relax. You are the same person today as you were yesterday. It is normal to feel extreme emotions: elation, terror, guilt, empowerment, and countless others. Feeling these fully is good; acting on these emotions is often awful.

Instead, here are some practical steps you can take right away, and some tips for you to consider as you look forward to the years ahead.

Call your financial planner at AIFS. We will help with everything. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for you. For us, this is our job. We’ve helped many people over many years navigate their suddenly wealthy journey, successfully and joyously!

Sign the back of the lottery ticket and snap photos, front and back, of that ticket. Then lock up the lottery ticket somewhere safe. Walk into the lottery office with these photos and proof of your identity.

Become more private. You are about to be inundated with attention, none of it invited and most of it unwelcome. Soon, you will want to move your assets, including your home, into an ownership structure that allows you to maintain your privacy. Change your cell phone number.

The real work begins after you’ve taken the practical steps. The real work involves your relationships, your purpose, your sense of identity.

Regarding relationships, our friend, Susan Bradley, says the first question she asks a lottery winner is, “Who won? Did I win or did both of us?” You’ll find you will have to navigate an entirely new set of opportunities and challenges with your partner. You’ll have revealing conversations with your family and friends. Some of these relationships will not survive this sudden change.

What To Do If You Win The Lottery

“Money is the singular most powerful secular force in the world,” said Dick Wagner. As strange as this may sound, you’ll be creating a new relationship with money itself. What does money mean for you now? What, from your childhood memories regarding (a lack of) money is helpful or relevant? Your habits, your limbic brain, your perspective are going to change in unpredictable ways. Give yourself time, and patience, as you clumsily stumble along. It’s normal not to know what to do with all this money. Be kind to yourself.

As your relationships change, so will your sense of purpose. Money has the power to help you become the most amazing version of you that you can imagine! What do you do now? Avoid that urge to spend quickly, even though you can! The charity will be there next year; it’s okay for you to move slowly. The luxury item—once you own it—will not fulfill the desire you have to own another once you have it. Relax. Talk to your financial planner. On our team, we have training and meaningful discussions about how to help our clients navigate the challenges and opportunities of their newfound wealth.

Successfully managed, your money will help you build an identity that outlives you. In alignment with your relationships, your values and your purpose, money takes on powerful meaning. Your money is good. Your money creates abundance and attracts more of what you want in your life, in your world, and in the world that will outlive you.

Faith. You may find that going deeper into your faith journey is both urgent and important.

Humility. Remember, we all put on our pants one leg at a time. One day your new routine will be completely different than today’s, but feel completely normal to the new version of you that you’ve become. Begin each day with a small success, like making your bed.

This is simple advice, I know, but simple isn’t always easy. 

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