LOCUST GROVE — What were the chances?
One in 10,737,573 — and in Locust Grove, at that — for whoever is now a cool $3.2 million richer after hitting the Jumbo Bucks jackpot.
The Georgia Lottery Corporation says the winning ticket came from the Publix grocery on Ga. Highway 155 and hit all six numbers: 1-2-4-12-39-46.
Lottery officials say the winner (or winners) will have 180 days from the drawing to claim the jackpot.
That involves showing the winning ticket, two pieces of valid identification, proof of current address and a Social Security card. After all, the IRS wants its cut.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, the Georgia Lottery Corporation says it will take out state and federal taxes — both withholding and income taxes. Lottery officials report all winnings above $600 to the IRS and the Georgia Department of Revenue.
Any winnings above $5,000 will see income taxes of 6 percent state, 24 percent federal, right off the top.
Anyone who wins $2,500 and owes child support will see that deducted first, and winners of $5,000 or more will pony up any outstanding student loans and state taxes, “net of wager or ticket cost.”
Because the prize is more than $600 and was bought in a store, the winner will have to go to any Georgia Lottery district office or the main office in Atlanta.
Because the jackpot is at least $500,ooo, the winnings will be direct deposited into the winner’s bank account, usually “within five to 10 business days from the date of claim.”
According to the Georgia Lottery Corporation, any jackpot prize pool is divided equally when there are multiple winning tickets.
But if an office pool or family holds a single winning ticket, lottery officials say they won’t get involved in divvying up the prize.
“The GLC cannot advise you about structuring lottery pools because they are arrangements made between private parties,” the lottery website states. “If you decide to play in a group, prizes may be claimed by a single legal entity, such as a corporation, partnership or trust. Groups, families, clubs or organizations can designate one individual or legal entity to receive a prize payment, or if the prize amount won is $5,001 or greater, individual prize payments (of $601 or greater) can be made to each group member, up to 25 members.”
Whoever it is has two choices: take a single lump sum cash payment or lock in an annuity of 30 payments over 29 years.
That’s only the first decision about how to manage the newfound wealth. The website MarketWatch offers advice on how not to waste the winnings.
Rule One is: keep the news to yourself.
Under Georgia law, “The corporation shall keep all information regarding the winner of awards of $250,000 or greater confidential upon the prize winner making a written request that his or her information be kept confidential.”
This is to protect winners from an endless parade of good causes, greedy relatives and grifters.
NerdWallet.com suggests hiding out in a hotel for a while and investing in a few burner phones to keep nosy people out of your financial business.
NerdWallet also warns winners to choose financial and legal advisors wisely, and to be prepared to pay for their services. Some of these include:
• Financial planner. Any financial planner should hold a current Certified Financial Planner (CFP) rating, which the winner should look up at the National Association of Personal Financial Advisers website ( https://www.napfa.org/ ).
• Tax attorney. Start looking for a tax attorney at the American Bar Association.
• CPA. You’re going to need a certified public accountant. The American Institute of CPAs does not offer recommendations. However, their website says many local CPA groups do so.
• Estate attorney. Eliminate any squabbling over the will.
Finally, studies show that not all winners waste their windfall on extravagant lifestyles — and that money still cannot buy happiness.
If you were bad with money before the win, chances are you’ll keep wasting money. Work closely with your financial adviser to make the most of your luck. Experts say you might seriously consider taking the annuity so that you don’t blow all your winnings at once while learning to handle your finances.
And if your ticket wasn’t a winner this time, at least now you know what to do when your ship comes in.