Someone in California bought a winning lottery ticket worth more than half a billion dollars — here's exactly what a lottery winner should do, according to a financial adviser

  • A Mega Millions lottery drawing on Tuesday determined a ticket sold in California has winning numbers for an estimated jackpot of $522 million.

  • But no matter how big the jackpot, the advice for sudden wealth is the same: First, take a deep breath, advises CFP Robert Pagliarini.

  • Then, winners should call the lottery association, and assemble a team to manage the money.

One lucky lottery winner could soon get their hands on over half a billion dollars.

A Mega Millions ticket sold in San Jose, California was determined to have the six winning numbers after a drawing Tuesday night. The winner has yet to come forward, but when they do, their jackpot will pay an estimated $522 million, including over $300 million in cash.

What then?

When the Powerball lottery reached a record high of $1.6 billion in January 2016, Business Insider reached out to CFP Robert Pagliarini to get his best advice for the winner. (Ultimately, it ended up being winners, thanks to three winning tickets.)

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While half a billion isn't quite the same as $1.6 billion, Pagliarini's advice still applies.

On the off-chance you hold the winning numbers, "The first thing to do is to take a very deep breath," said Pagliarini, author of "The Sudden Wealth Solution."

"Research tells us that when we are under stress, our brain responsible for planning and long-term decision making shuts off and the part that takes over is the part that is responsible for our fight or flight response," he explained.

"The more we can ground ourselves and not get caught up in the frenzy, the better our decisions will be."

Next, he advised you call up the lottery association (of the state in which you purchased the ticket) and ask if you are allowed to sign the ticket.

"Lottery tickets are 'bearer' instruments. This means that whoever holds the ticket is the winner," he explained. "I would also strongly suggest you take a photo and video of yourself with the ticket."

Finally, put together your "financial triad."

"This includes an attorney, a tax person, and a financial adviser," Pagliarini said. "This financial dream team can help you make smart financial decisions and help you plan for the future. They can also help shield you from the media and from the onslaught of money requests from others."

Plenty of lottery winners end up blowing it all. The biggest difference between those folks and the ones who keep their wealth is mindset, Pagliarini explained:

"Based on my experience working with sudden wealth recipients for nearly 20 years now, I can tell you that those creating lasting wealth have a different mindset than those who spend through their money.

"Rule number one is to take control! This doesn't mean you have to have all the answers, but it means that you accept that no matter what happens, it is your responsibility. This shifts the focus from others to yourself. It's that ownership mentality that makes all the difference."

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