What would you do if you won $1 million? How about just over $19.1 million? That's the question seven Capital Region residents are asking themselves after splitting the $319 million Mega Millions jackpot prize they won March 23.
The group of state workers regularly pool their $2 and buy lottery tickets when the jackpot hits $100 million. This time, they hit it right with a Quick Pick from a corner store in Albany, making John Hilton, 57, of North Greenbush; Gabrielle Mahar, 29, of Colonie; John Kutey, 54, of Green Island; Tracy Sussman, 41, of Colonie; Mike Barth, 63, of Bethlehem; Kristin Baldwin, 42, of Clifton Park; and Leon Peck, 62, of Johnstown, overnight millionaires.
While their immediate plans seem tameMahar wants a dishwasher, Barth wants new tires and to fund his son's college education, Hilton wants to fly first class and Kutey wants to take his wife to every Disney Park aroundthe "lottery curse" can strike in the blink of an eye.
Jim LeBrou, an estate planning attorney with a financial planning background, said the lucky seven can take several simple steps to ensure their newfound wealth remains intact in the long-run.
"There are horror stories about lottery winners and all the tragedies that they have they wind up broke, filing for bankruptcy or completely broke or a lot of other problems," said LeBrou, who works at Tully Rinckey PLLC.
LeBrou said striking it rich out of nowhere can be understandably confusing. Most lottery winners are of average or below average wealth, so they've never had to deal with lots of money. That, coupled with no professional financial background and family and friends chirping advice in their ear, can make for a dangerous outcome.
"They listen to bad advice, that's the No. 1 one thing they do. No. 2 is they spend a lot of money on assets that depreciate, assets that immediately as soon as you buy the item, loses value," said LeBrou.