When lottery jackpots flirt with half a billion dollars, it’s cause for excitement for players. But even smaller prizes can create a buzz, as the employees at a store in New York recently discovered.
A gas station in the Empire State sold a Mega Millions ticket worth a guaranteed $2 million over the weekend. If the winner of that prize — and perhaps any winners of either the current Mega Millions or Powerball jackpots — need to know what to do after striking it rich, the path forward is well-trodden.
Lottery jackpots are way up there, so here’s what you should know
The Mega Millions jackpot is up to $750 million, and Powerball has reached $640 million. While the after-tax lump sums would come out to less than half of those amounts, the net jackpots would still be a life-changing amount of money for most people.
One lucky Mega Millions player didn’t fare too poorly in last week’s drawing. The so-far unnamed winner bought the ticket at Love’s Travel Stop in Binghamton. All five numbers on the ticket matched, but the ticket missed on the Mega Ball. The 2x Megaplier boosted the win to $2 million instead of the standard million.
“We were completely amazed,” the store manager said, “and it’s awesome considering our current situation in the economy and we’re, we’re just amazed.”
Amazement is a common reaction for people who win prizes of seven or more figures playing the lottery. However, that’s actually a time when keeping a clear head is pivotal. There is a procedure for claiming prizes, and there are best practices for how to manage the prizes.
How to claim big prizes playing the NY lottery
In New York, there’s a precise protocol for claiming lottery prizes of $601 or more. Essentially, you have two options: either claim your prize via mail, or make an appointment at one of the New York Lottery claim centers.
Last year, wait times for appointments at claim centers were quite long. While that has improved over time, claim centers are still not accepting walk-ins. You must make an appointment at one of the 14 locations to claim your prize in-person.
|Batavia Downs Casino||8315 Park Rd, 14020, Batavia|
|Buffalo||165 Genesee Street, 14203, Buffalo|
|Empire City Casino||810 Yonkers Ave, 10704, Yonkers|
|Finger Lakes||5857 Route 96, 14425, Farmington|
|Fishkill||18 Westage Business Center Ste 6, 12524, Fishkill|
|Hamburg Gaming||5820 South Park Ave, 14075, Hamburg|
|Jake's 58||3635 Express Drive North, 11749, Islandia|
|Long Island||45 South Service Road, 11803, Plainview|
|Resorts World NYC||110-00 Rockaway Blvd, 11420, Jamaica|
|Saratoga Casino Hotel||342 Jefferson St, 12866, Saratoga Springs|
|Schenectady||One Broadway Center, PO Box 7500, 12305, Schenectady|
|Syracuse||620 Erie Blvd West, 13204, Syracuse|
|Tioga Downs Casino||2384 W River Rd, 13812, Nichols|
|Vernon Downs||4229 Stuhlman Rd, 13476, Vernon|
As noted, wait times for appointments have indeed improved. That said, some locations still require patience from the public. Consider the following claim centers and their earliest available appointments:
- Yonkers: March 20
- Fishkill: Feb. 8
- Islandia: Feb. 3
- Long Island: Feb. 16
- Resorts World: Sundays only until March
- Syracuse: Wednesdays only, starting Feb. 10
Hours at the centers vary by location and services required. Jackpot claims (prizes of $250,000 or more) are only available at the Buffalo, Fishkill, Schenectady and Syracuse offices.
All claim centers require patrons to wear face masks properly while on-site and no more than one person can be on-site at a time. If you prefer to have a representative claim the prize for you, you must notify the center of that when making your appointment.
What to do after initiating your prize claim
After getting the ball rolling on your claim, there are three people you should hire. Don’t worry about the cost. The services these people provide will more than pay for themselves over time.
- Accountant: Keeping all the ins and outs of different funds and trusts can be complicated. The services of a skilled accountant are more than worth their cost.
- Attorney: Not only will a good lawyer help you protect yourself from people looking to take advantage of you but can help you find ways to save on the taxes you will pay
- Financial advisor: This person can help you find ways to make your prize money grow instead of depleting over time
With these huge lottery jackpots on the line, Mega Millions and Powerball tickets are sure to sell in droves in New York. If you defy the odds to win a substantial prize, you can enjoy the winnings and avoid pitfalls.