What not to do when you win the lottery

By AJ Willingham

Published October 17, 2018

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You're not going to win the lottery.

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But it's OK to dream about what you would do with all that money. Private island, maybe?

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Choose carefully, because unscrupulous spending is a common plague among the tout nouveau riche. If you do win a big chunk of cash, you can probably afford to hire someone smart to make decisions for you.

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Until then, you can just read about these cautionary tales for free.

Don't spend millions bailing out your fiancé

Brace yourself for the roller coaster love story of Marie Holmes and her fiancé/partner Lamar "Hot Sauce" McDow. The Shallote, North Carolina, woman won about $88 million in February 2015.

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She has spent more than $20 million of it bailing her dear Hot Sauce out of jail.

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Don't leave your husband without telling him about the money

If you dream about winning big and then leaving your spouse, remember Denise Rossi (and consider counseling?).


In 1996, Rossi hit it big, winning $1.3 million from the California Lottery. A few days later, she blindsided her husband by asking for a divorce. Oh, and she never mentioned the fact she was a newly-minted millionaire.

During divorce proceedings, her fortune was discovered. The court gave all of it to her husband! Well, ex-husband.

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Don't allow a relative to claim your money for you

Etta May Urquhart was happy when she won a $51 million California jackpot in 2012. But things got ugly when, as her accusations go, she and her son Ronnie Orender decided he should sign the winning ticket.

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A year later, Urquhart straight up sued her son, alleging he had swindled her out of her money. She also claimed elder abuse. The lawsuit eventually reached an undisclosed settlement.

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Don't buy your tickets late

Yes, this can really happen. Meet Margit Arrobio.


The Pasadena, California, woman (why is it always California?) bought a few Powerball tickets in 2013, when the jackpot was at a sensible $360 million. The next morning watching the news, she discovered she held a winning ticket. All of the numbers matched.


It wasn't really a winning ticket. Arrobio had bought the tickets an hour after the Powerball cutoff time.

Don't not claim your winnings

Those who ascribe to the Ricky Bobby school of thought -- "If you're not first, you're last" -- may be missing out on millions of sweet lotto dollars.

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Second place prizes for Powerball and MegaMillions drawings are worth at least $1 million, and CNN Business reports an estimated 114 of these million-dollar payouts went unclaimed in 2015.

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Listen, the lottery odds will never, ever sway even remotely in your favor, but at least make sure you're not missing out on free money!

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