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Advice for Future Powerball Winner

25 May 2005

UNITED STATES – (PRESS REELASE) -- If there is a jackpot winner for Wednesday night's Powerball(R) drawing, it will be for the 10th largest jackpot in Powerball history. Jackpots of this size mean that the winner's life will change forever. A win of this magnitude can be overwhelming so it pays to understand the most important steps to protect your new-found wealth. Lottery officials offer the following advice:

-- SIGN THE BACK OF THE TICKET - Print and sign your name on the back of the ticket. Since a ticket is a "bearer instrument," this can help show ownership if the ticket is misplaced.

-- KEEP THE TICKET IN A SAFE PLACE - A safety deposit box is best, but a fire safe or even your refrigerator can offer some simple protection until you can secure your ticket.

-- TAKE YOUR TIME - Check with your local lottery to see how much time you have to claim your prize and then take the time to talk to your financial and legal advisors about the best way to claim your prize.

-- HIRE A LAWYER, A FINANCIAL ADVISOR, AND AN ACCOUNTANT - These professionals will help guard your winnings and will also provide advice on a sound financial strategy. There are important financial decisions that need to be made right away.

-- DECIDE ON A LUMP SUM OR ANNUITY PAYMENT - Your first important decision will be whether to take the cash option or the annuity option. In most jurisdictions, you will have 60 days to decide from the time the ticket is validated so take some time to think about which option works best for you.

-- CHANGE YOUR PHONE NUMBER - Change your telephone number and get away after claiming your prize to take some time to think about your win and your new life. Direct all requests for money to your lawyer or accountant.

-- UNDERSTANDING UNCLE SAM'S CUT - Lottery winnings are treated just like ordinary income. The lottery is required to withhold 25% in federal tax and a smaller percentage for state taxes from the winnings, but your actual income tax liability is likely to be higher. If winners select the annuity option, the federal and state taxes are withheld from each annual payment and your income tax liability is based on the amount you receive each year. If winners select the cash option, the withholding taxes are based on the entire lump sum amount your tax liability is determined on the lump sum payment for that tax year.

And if $180 million is just too hard to imagine, here are some fun facts about what $180 million looks like. Measured in one-dollar bills, $180 million:

-- Weighs 396,832 pounds. It would take 198 one-ton trucks to carry all the cash.

-- Would line up, end to end, for 17,045 miles, crossing the US almost 6 times.

-- Would stack all the way down to the deepest ocean depth - twice. The Challenger Deep is 7 miles deep; a stack of 180 million dollar bills is 14 miles high.

-- Would fill up 2,500 boxes of copier paper.

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