ATLANTA — After another night with no one claiming the $830 million Mega Millions jackpot from Tuesday, the prize money has now skyrocketed to $1.02 billion.
Across the country, people are hoping to hold the lucky ticket to the third largest jackpot prize in the game’s history. However, most don't think that far ahead to what would happen after they win and what the best options are for preserving the grand cash prize?.
11Alive went to financial expert and CEO of Oxygen Financial, Ted Jenkin, for advice on how any jackpot winner can get the most out of their winnings, and he said the first step is to determine how you want to receive the cash prize.
“Well, one of the big decisions that everyone has to make is do you take the lump sum or do you take the annuity over time,” Jenkin said.
In the past, most winners opted for the lump sum payment, and with the current jackpot at $1.02 billion, that cash option would move to an estimated $602.5 million after taking 37% away for federal taxes. Additionally, Jenkin explained another 6% of the earnings would go to Georgia state taxes.
Alternatively, the annuity option would pay the winner 30 annual payments, with each payment rising 5% more than the last. Jenkin said no option is necessarily better than the other, but a person’s financial discipline should be considered.
“If you have a good team around you, a good attorney, a good CPA, a good financial adviser and you're disciplined, I like always taking the lump sum because you have the velocity of having that money in your hands from day one,” he explained. “But if you are highly undisciplined and you're worried about people coming and knocking on your door and asking for money, then the annuity might be a better option for you.”
Once this is determined, Jenkin told 11Alive the biggest piece of advice he could give to winners.
"Don't quit your job," he said.
Instead, the financial expert recommended finding ways to recreate income.
“Finding things that pay consistent interest or pay consistent dividends is really going to be a smart move. The thing you don't want to do is start investing in businesses that you don't know, or lending money to people because the odds are, you generally won't get it back.”
He also encouraged people to find ways to get tax breaks by creating organizations or charities. This allows them to do good while also reaping a reward.