The First 11 Things You Should Do if You Win The Lottery

What Should You Do If You Win The Lottery -Tips - MGJ
Mia Avatar

Have you ever dreamed of being a mega lottery winner?

I have, and – if you’re like me and most people – I’m sure you have, too. That said, while most of us like to dream about what we would do if we won a huge multi-million-dollar lottery, few of us think about what we should do if we did.

I’m a weekly lottery player, especially when the top prize passes the $20 million mark. Mostly, I buy tickets for Lotto 6/49 and Lotto Max. I’ve never won anything very big (mostly my luck seems to be winning the occasional free ticket 😂), but I recently got to thinking…

What should I do if I win the lottery?

Being curious and bored enough at work to feed my curiosity, I looked into it. Some of what I read was what I had already guessed. Other things I learned surprised and enlightened me enough that I thought the topic would be fun to cover. And here we are.

Note: I’m no pro advisor. What I’ve written below isn’t meant as a how-to guide or as personal recommendations. It’s simply for general information purposes. If you do end up being a lucky person who wins the lottery, please seek advice from appropriate professional advisors.

11 Things to Do When You Win the Lottery

Let’s face it, statistics show that the odds are that most of us lotto players are more likely to be struck by lightning ⚡a couple of times and bitten by a shark🦈, than to be big lottery winners. But, on the off chance incredible luck shines down on me or you one day, here are 11 things you should consider doing before you put your big lottery winning dream plans into action.

1 – Take a breath, verify you’ve won, sign your ticket, and keep it in a safe place

Triple check that you are indeed holding a grand prize-winning ticket. Once that’s confirmed (and your heart restarts), sign the ticket and put it in a safe place. An ideal place would be where you store private documents (e.g. passport, will, government documents, etc.) you don’t want to lose or have stolen.

If you want to be extra cautious (which might be warranted if you’re holding on to a $60 million prize ticket), it’s also worth considering opening a safety deposit box at your bank.

If you purchased your lotto ticket online, it should remain safe in your inbox until you’re ready to officially claim the prize.

2 – Do not immediately claim the prize

Winning a massive money prize is extremely overwhelming for most people.  While thrilling, it will also be 100% life-changing once you claim the prize. It’s impossible to make important decisions when you’re in the initial state-of-shock and overwhelmed stage (at least it would be for me!).

3 – Don’t tell anyone you’ve won

Shhh - Don't tell anyone that you won the lottery - MGJ

Even before you claim your prize, you might be tempted to tell everyone you know about your good fortune.


I imagine this would be incredibly hard for most people (myself included) but outside of telling a partner you live with, keeping your lips sealed is a good self- (and immediate family-) protection plan. In fact, if you have kids, it’s probably a good idea not to tell them about your win either. Now isn’t the time to share your news (or have others who are excited share it for you – by accident or otherwise). Why? The last thing you want to do is to tell a whole bunch of people and make them promises of money gifts, when you haven’t yet come up with a solid financial plan. The idea of getting money changes people, and not always for the better…especially if you don’t/can’t live up to promises you made in the high of your initial excitement.

Hold on to your anonymity until you’re ready to claim the prize. Once you claim it, you won’t have it anymore. Then you’ll have plenty of time to celebrate your win with others.

4 – Avoid making sudden lifestyle changes like quitting your job

Try not to make any radical changes in your life, especially at the start, such as buying new things, quitting your job on the spot, avoiding responsibilities, cutting people out of your life, etc. Not only will this likely draw unwanted attention, but you don’t want to burn bridges unnecessarily.

It’s always a good idea to leave yourself options, especially if you have a career you enjoy, and not to take the people you care about for granted. Also, remember that being able to quit your job really depends on how much you’ve won. While winning $60 million should allow you to quit your job and live out your life comfortably (if you make smart decisions with your money), winning $2 million likely won’t cut it for most people in today’s economy.

Maybe instead of quitting your job right away, just take a couple of days off while you’re processing everything.

5 – Assemble a team of advisors

Help Needed - Financial Advisor - Lottery Win - MGJ

No matter how good you might think you are at managing your money, becoming instantly rich isn’t something you’re going to be able to handle on your own. You need to seek the advice of professionals. Over time, this team might consist of a financial advisor, a wealth manger, a trusts/estates lawyer, and an accountant.

While it makes perfect sense to have a team of advisors when you suddenly come into a huge sum of money, it was one of the recommendations I came across that surprised me. The reason is I had no idea that multiple advisors would be necessary, and it never occurred to me that seeking out advisors prior to claiming the prize would be the best idea. I figured you’d do that after you claimed the prize. However, since you might not be thinking straight after your win, these professionals are the ones who can help you figure out what to do when you win the lottery, even before you officially claim the prize.

Additionally, I learned that of all the advisors I listed above, it might be best to first consult with a trusts and estates attorney who specializes in assisting people who have experienced large financial windfalls. A reputable attorney that understands your case can also help you hire the most suitable financial advisor and accountant. That’s important, since you’ll likely want to hire the best people who will offer sound advice and help you to protect your financial interests over the long-term.

6 – Claim your prize

Once you’ve successfully claimed the prize, you can say goodbye to your anonymity (if you’ve won anything over $1,000). In Canada (including Ontario), when you win major lottery prizes, one of the rules of accepting the prize is agreeing to be publicly identified by the lottery corporation. This includes having your photo taken and revealing your name, city where you live, occupation, marital status, etc.  This info and your picture will be posted online (and sometimes in print) when the lottery corporation announces you as the winner. After that, everyone will know you’re the lucky prize taker.

OLG Lottery Prize Rules - MGJ
Screenshot from

7 – Change your contact info and get off social media

Once the cat is out of the bag, there won’t be anything stopping everyone and their dog from wanting to obtain a piece of your prize. 

No joke. I conducted a simple “lottery winner” keyword search on Google and the most frequent search terms that popped up were:  

  • Who won the lottery in Canada
  • Who won the lottery in Ontario
  • Who won the lottery last night
  • Where have people won the lottery

Like it or not, you’re going to need to figure out how to handle the inevitable solicitations you’re bound to get from relatives, friends, acquaintances, that person you haven’t thought about since high school, charities, and scammers.

First things first, change any contact info that you can, including your phone numbers and emails (depending on how much you won, your spouse and kids may need to do this as well). Only share your new info with close family and friends you trust.

Secondly, get off social media. Shut down any accounts you have. The last thing you want is to provide people with easy access to your personal photos and content and sending you unwanted messages harassing you for money.

8 – Put your money in the bank

Depositing into bank - piggy bank - MGJ

Work with your financial advisor to get your prize money into your bank account and/or your trust before you start spending. If you’ve won hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, it might not be best to stick it all in one account. An advisor can help you figure out the best way for your money to chill in the bank, insured.

Also, once you put a lot of money in the bank, you’re suddenly going to become that bank’s best friend. Take what bank managers say with a grain of salt, agree to nothing (no matter how good/smart what’s being advertised might sound), and talk to your trusted advisor before making any decisions .

9 – Pay any immediate expenses, clear your debt, and create an emergency fund

Once you’ve got the money in the bank, take care of any immediate expenses. If you have any debts, pay these off as well.

Next, create a rainy-day/emergency fund.  This fund is a safety net (e.g., six month’s worth of your salary) that can keep you afloat for a decent amount of time if you fall on bad times or end up broke . It’s hard to imagine that you could wind up broke if you won a huge multi-million-dollar lottery, but it can and does happen to lottery winners due to poor financial planning or too much free spending or giving. As such, it’s a good idea to put a percentage of your prize money into an emergency fund, regardless of how much you win. A financial advisor can help you to determine what amount is best based on your circumstances.

10 – Leave town for a while

Leave Town if you win the lottery - MGJ

Yup, physically leave town for a while if its possible. Take a leave of absence from work (if you’re keeping your job) and go on vacation for a few weeks or even a month. The longer you’re away, the more time will pass, allowing for the news of you being a lottery winner to die down where you live.

While you’re away, relax and allow yourself the time to think about what you want to do with the money (e.g. spending, gifting, investing) and how you would like to live with it.

11 – Create a short-term, medium-term, and long-term plan

When you’ve returned from your (escape) getaway, get together with your team of advisors and come up with a short-term, medium-term and long-term plan. You might already have ideas of what you’d like to do, but it’s important to have solid plans in place.

Your advisors can help you to decide how you will manage your prize money in terms of:

  • Spending
  • Savings
  • Gifting strategy
  • Charitable donations
  • Investments**
  • Establishing a trust
  • Estate planning

And so on. While not everything above needs to be addressed immediately, it’s examples of how advisors can help you make short-term, mid-term, and long-term decisions to prevent irreversible financial mistakes and to protect your fortune for years to come.

Bottom Line for a Lottery Winner – Prepare a Real Plan

Ultimately, dumping your dream plans and preparing a realistic plan with a team of advisors is what to do if you win the lottery. Without a realistic plan you can put into action effectively, a dream lottery win can quickly turn into a nightmare. The fact is, there’s simply no way for anyone to be prepared to handle becoming instantly wealthy and all the challenges that come with it.

Until next time, good luck and have fun.

Mia 👩‍💻

***All links and images in this post are for informational purposes only. I’m not affiliated with anyone.

Mia Avatar

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *