LOS ANGELES — So you won the Powerball jackpot. Now what?
A single Powerball ticket in California beat the odds Tuesday and won a record-setting $2.04 billion jackpot. We don't know who bought that ticket, but within a year, we will.
So who is the winner? At this point, we just know that the winning ticket was sold in Altadena, a city about 15 miles north of Los Angeles. We also know that the winner is extremely lucky, beating 1 in 292.2 million odds.
Under California law, a lottery jackpot winner must publicly come forward to claim their prize, although they have up to a year to do so. When they do, they can either choose to receive the full amount in monthly installments, or take a $997.6 million lump sum payout.
And it could take a while before the winner is ready to come forward. In the past, lottery winners have been less than lucky, being hounded for money and becoming victims of scams.
One such winner is Manuel Franco of Wisconsin, who claimed a $768 million lottery jackpot in April 2019. The then-24-year-old reportedly went into hiding due to unwanted attention.
That wasn't the end of his lottery-related troubles. Using Franco's name in messages and phone calls, scammers told recipients they had been chosen to receive money. Instead, the BBB said they phished for personal information and tricked people out of thousands of dollars.
Because of that, and because of the requirement that they come forward publicly, it's often beneficial for a lottery winner to hire an attorney or an estate planner to help them navigate the big-budget world they have suddenly found themselves in.
What happens once they do come forward?
Obviously, there's going to be a lot of media attention on the winner. It's not every day that somebody becomes a billionaire overnight. As for the money, it will come within a few weeks.
“If you elected the cash option or if your prize is only offered in a single payment, your check should arrive approximately six to eight weeks from your claim date," according to the California Lottery’s Winner’s Handbook. "If your prize is to be paid in installments, your first payment should be available within six to eight weeks from your claim date.”
While big jackpot winners often choose the cash option — giving them a still-large sum upfront instead of the full annuity payment — financial advisors say that could be a mistake.
Other large lottery prize winners have been able to stay anonymous, including a Mega Millions winner from Chicago who took home $1.337 billion in August.
Despite the problems encountered by the winners, lottery officials prefer to publicly identify winners to build public trust in the games.
Top 10 biggest US lottery jackpots
- $2.04 billion, Powerball, Nov. 8, 2022 (one ticket, from California)
- $1.586 billion, Powerball, Jan. 13, 2016 (three tickets, from California, Florida, Tennessee)
- $1.537 billion, Mega Millions, Oct. 23, 2018 (one ticket, from South Carolina)
- $1.337 billion, Mega Millions, July 29, 2022 (one ticket, from Illinois)
- $1.05 billion, Mega Millions, Jan. 22, 2021 (one ticket, from Michigan)
- $768.4 million, Powerball, March 27, 2019 (one ticket, from Wisconsin)
- $758.7 million, Powerball, Aug. 23, 2017 (one ticket, from Massachusetts)
- $731.1 million, Powerball, Jan. 20, 2021 (one ticket, from Maryland)
- $687.8 million, Powerball, Oct. 27, 2018 (two tickets, from Iowa and New York)
- $656 million, Mega Millions, March 30, 2012 (three tickets, from Kansas, Illinois and Maryland)