So let’s say for a moment that you’ve won the lottery: what on Earth should you do next? It’s an important question and one that many people have to answer when they get lucky and hit the jackpot.

We all know, however, that things can go wrong after winning the lottery. There are stories all over the internet about people who blew their millions, only to end up just as broke as they were before they won.

Worse still are the horror stories about people who lost all their friends and family as a result of winning and even became enemies because of it.

Winning the lottery should be a good experience – at least according to Nigel Birrell, chief executive of a big lottery company. So what’s his advice to winners?

Think Very Carefully Before Going Public

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Lottery winners have the option of remaining silent about their winnings or going public. The urge is always to go public and celebrate, but Birrell cautions against this. One of the benefits of staying quiet about your winnings is the fact that the press won’t be hounding you every five minutes and your friends won’t be ringing up, begging for money.

But, of course, there are costs too. For instance, it’s very hard to hide the fact that you’re a millionaire when you give up your day job in the biscuit factory, buy a yacht and move into a country mansion. Often keeping winnings a secret can cause resentment among friends and family, especially if they think you’re keeping a secret from them.

Get Professional Advice

Winning a huge sum of money is a life-changing experience. One moment you’re grinding along, paying a weekly visit to the corner store to pick up your ticket, the next you’re a high roller enjoying fast cars and beautiful hotels. It’s a good idea at some point in the process to talk to someone who understands how to manage vast sums of money. You’ll need to understand things like how to get a settlement advance as well as where you should invest your money and how it will affect your tax status.

Invest Your Money, Then Make A Shopping List

It’s a rare person who goes through life and never wants for material possessions. It’s an even rarer person who goes through life, plays the lottery, and still doesn’t have a shopping list. Lottery players usually have a list of stuff that they want as long as their arm, and when they win, they’re keen to rush headlong into making all their shopping fantasies a reality.

But Birrell recommends against this. He points out that you never hear a rich person talk about what they’re spending their money on. Instead, their focus is constantly on their next investment and how they’re going to make their next million dollars. The problem with most lottery winners is that they’re not used to thinking this way. Instead, they see their money as a big pile that will eventually drain away. Birrell’s advice: invest first, shop later and make sure that you try to grow your winnings once you’ve got them.