If you win the Powerball, your dreams may indeed come true. But you will be thrust headlong into a public relations nightmare.
Given that the odds of winning are one in 292 million—even greater if you don’t have a ticket—chances are you won’t experience this particular nightmare. But since everyone who has a ticket is a potential winner, listen up: Unless you live in Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio, or South Carolina, by law, you must be identified as a winner. And that’s when the ticket hits the fan.
Once you’re photographed holding that big check, you will be amazed at the number of relatives, friends, business associates, classmates, co-workers, and pen pals who will descend on you with their mouths running and their hands open.
Not only will you be subject to the wants of others you’ll be engulfed in your own impulses to indulge freely and even to do good.
Here’s some sound advice: Turn off your phone, lock the door, and check those impulses. Now get:
- A lawyer.
- A financial advisor.
- A public relations professional.
It should be obvious why you need a lawyer and a financial advisor. It may not be so clear why you need a PR professional. After all, you’re still you, right? You’re not going to let $1.5 billion turn you into the Jolie-Pitts, are you?
In truth, you’re no longer you. You are a billionaire. (Although, if you take the lottery’s lump sum, you’re only a multi-millionaire.)
Ever since the first lottery was issued to build the Great Wall of China, people of modest means have sought instant riches. When they get them, their lives change. Not always in a good way. Google “Lottery winner nightmares” and see what you get.
Once you’re identified as the winner of the largest lottery in world history, you are a target and you need a gatekeeper. And unless your brother-in-law is a PR professional, this is not a job for a well-meaning relative. A PR professional will look out for your best interests and have the expertise and resources to deal with the media storm.
Every media outlet in your town, your state, and many from across the country and the world will want to talk to you. Now. There will be hundreds, maybe thousands of requests. Ever seen a satellite truck farm? You will.
Statistically, millionaires don’t buy lottery tickets. CEOs who are used to media scrutiny don’t buy lottery tickets. Regular work-a-day Joes and Janes buy lottery tickets. In fact, investigations of lotteries are underway to determine if the poor are disproportionately targeted by lotteries.
The people who win lotteries are not used to publicity. This won’t be like winning a flat screen in the Rotary raffle that gets your photo in the local weekly. This kind of publicity will knock your world off its axis. Are you ready for your close-up on Good Morning America? Will you be comfortable having your entire life picked apart in cyberspace? In print? On television? By anyone with a Twitter handle?
We’ve all fantasized about unlimited wealth, about being famous, about being so rich we could give money to all our friends and favorite charities. But very few of us are prepared for the demands and immediate attention that something like this can drop on our heads.
The odds of winning are high. The odds of living happily ever after don’t have to be as high. If you are the one in 292 million, be smart. A PR professional will help you. You can take that to the bank.