Lawyer offers advice on avoiding common prize-money pitfalls

One lawyer who's seen up and many downs with past lotto winners he represented offered advice.

HOUSTON - ROSENBERG, Texas - The Texas Mega Millions winner will receive nearly half-a-billion dollars. This weekend’s Powerball offers an even larger jackpot.

It begs the question: What do you do with all that loot? One lawyer who's seen up and many downs with past winners he represented offered advice.

Related: Are you a winner? Numbers for $450M Mega Millions prize drawn

Two-dollar tickets lured number crunching, SnapChatting jackpot dreamers to line up at Rudy’s Stop and Shop Friday night. All eyed Powerball’s $570 million up for grabs.

It moved Yolanda Grimes and Roxanne Torres to drive nearly 2 hours to buy $500 worth of tickets for their Kilgore Industries work pool.

“We’ll share with you, too,” Torres said.  “Give me your number.”

One lawyer who's represented 10 past Powerball winners warns those who hit the jackpot to keep quiet, avoid lottery photo opportunities and tell nobody they won.

“What good could come out of telling everybody that you won $500 million?” Manfred Sternberg asked. “I think there’s nothing good.”

It is also important to copy and keep up with your ticket because each winner is like cash, Sternberg said.

“If you lose it, then you’re a loser,” he added. “You don’t have it, and you can’t say, 'I won. I know that I won. My neighbor saw that I won.' But you don’t have the ticket.”

Sternberg said he’s seen enough lotto winners lose it all to know jackpots hardly change habits for people who poorly manage money, so finding reliable help is a must.

“With $500 million, shame on you if you don’t get a CPA,” Sternberg said. “Shame on you if you don’t get a financial planner. And shame on you if you don’t get a lawyer.”

© 2018 KHOU-TV


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