Anyone that’s celebrated Christmas as a kid knows how unbearable the wait before opening presents can be. The closest equivalent for an adult would be the time between winning the lottery, claiming the prize, and receiving the money.
Depending on how much you win in the lottery, you could instantly be paid out or have to wait for what feels like an eternity first.
What Do You Do After You Win the Lottery?
Each year, tens of millions of Americans will play the lottery in hopes of hitting the big jackpot. Some people play occasionally or whenever the pot reaches a new record. Others play religiously and have a set weekly or daily routine for buying tickets.
Unfortunately, most lottery players don’t win very much money for both types. For example, any given Powerball ticket has a 91.9% chance of winning less than $5.
You’re more likely to get struck by lightning, win an Oscar, or become President of the United States than hit the jackpot.
The odds of winning the lottery aren’t in your favor. A few lotteries are a little easier to win than others, but it’s not exactly a good retirement plan. That said, there will eventually be a lucky winner for every lottery. It might take a while, but the winning numbers will match.
If you’ve recently hit the jackpot, your life is about to change in ways you can’t imagine. There’s a very short list of people who have hit major lottery jackpots, so there isn’t a handbook to help.
However, learning from the experiences of others has provided a few tips for what to do next:
- Sign the ticket and store it in a safe place. The first thing you should do after you win is to sign the ticket and stash it somewhere safe immediately. The legal system makes it clear that the person possessing the ticket is considered the owner. You don’t want to leave it to chance that your lottery-winning ticket might be lost or stolen and claimed by someone else.
- Hire a legal advisor and financial planner. You’re going to have a lot of new responsibilities as a lottery winner that can be overwhelming. Taxes are usually taken out of your winnings, but that’s only the beginning of your legal and financial concerns. It’s best to leave it to the experts and avoid getting yourself in trouble.
- Call the lottery headquarters of your state. You’ll need to talk with the lottery headquarters in your state for large prizes. You should speak to them soon to schedule a day to visit and claim your prize. Each state has different rules for anonymity, so you should discuss your options for privacy. You might need to take additional steps to protect your privacy before you claim your winnings.
- Decide whether you want a lump sum or an annuity. There are two payment options for lottery winners: lump sum or annuity. A lump sum means you’ll be paid the sum of your winnings in a one-time payment. Annuity payments will be split up and paid over a few decades. Choose carefully — there are significant differences and consequences for each option.
How Much Time Do You Have To Claim Lottery Winnings?
Winning the lottery is one of people's most commonly shared dreams worldwide. It’s impossible to know how many hours are spent daydreaming about the money in the latest jackpot.
As such, you would think that lottery players would closely monitor the winning numbers during the drawing and race to claim their prize if they won. In reality, billions of dollars in lottery winners have gone unclaimed over the years as the prizes weren’t claimed in time.
Everything in life has an expiration date, and lottery tickets are no exception. The exact time frame will vary on a few factors: the state where you bought the ticket, the amount of money you’ve won, the preferred payment method, and the type of lottery you played.
Each state has the power to create rules and time frames for claiming lottery winnings. These rules can vary significantly from state to state.
It’s important to note that claim periods within a state aren’t universal for all types of lottery. Typically, the most time is permitted to winners of the jackpot. Alternatively, the least amount of time is provided for winners of scratch-off games. Depending on the game you’ve won, you’ll need to check your state’s jurisdiction for claim periods.
Winning the jackpot will usually allow you the most time to claim your winnings. However, you might not be able to opt for a lump sum payment if you wait too long. In Illinois, you have up to a year to claim the jackpot.
However, if you want a lump sum payment, you must claim the prize within 60 days of the drawing date. A jackpot claimed after 60 days will automatically be paid out in annuity payments.
The lottery is available in 45 states, two territories, and one district. The only places where the lottery remains illegal are Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, Utah, and Guam. Each state will set its own claim period for lottery winnings.
In almost all cases, the time frame for claiming a jackpot is either six months (180 days) or 12 months. The only exceptions are New Mexico and Maryland; their claim periods are 90 days and 182 days, respectively.
These are the official time frames for claiming a jackpot in each state:
- Arizona: 180 days
- Arkansas: 180 days
- California: 12 months
- Colorado: 180 days
- Connecticut: 180 days
- Delaware: 12 months
- Florida: 180 days
- Georgia: 180 days
- Idaho: 180 days
- Illinois: 12 months
- Indiana: 180 days
- Iowa: 12 months
- Kansas: 12 months
- Kentucky: 180 days
- Louisiana: 180 days
- Maine: 12 months
- Maryland: 182 days
- Massachusetts: 12 months
- Michigan: 12 months
- Minnesota: 12 months
- Mississippi: 180 days
- Montana: 180 days
- Nebraska: 180 days
- New Hampshire: 12 months
- New Jersey: 12 months
- New Mexico: 90 days
- New York: 12 months
- North Carolina: 180 days
- North Dakota: 180 days
- Ohio: 180 days
- Oklahoma: 180 days
- Oregon: 12 months
- Pennsylvania: 12 months
- Puerto Rico: 180 days
- Rhode Island: 12 months
- South Carolina: 180 days
- South Dakota: 180 days
- Tennessee: 180 days
- Texas: 180 days
- Vermont: 12 months
- Virginia: 180 days
- Virgin Islands: 180 days
- Washington: 180 days
- Washington D.C.: 180 days
- West Virginia: 180 days
- Wisconsin: 180 days
- Wyoming: 180 days
How Long Before the First Transfer Is Made?
The process of procuring your winnings will vary depending on your prize amount and the state where you bought the ticket. For example, most states will allow you to transfer lottery winnings over $5,000 directly into your bank account.
However, California doesn’t permit such an action, so you must select an alternative payment method. The state determines its own rules regardless of whether you’re claiming a state-run lottery prize or a national lottery prize.
We’ve already covered how states have rules for anonymity and claim periods. Each state will also establish rules for validating the winning ticket, verifying your identity as the ticket owner, and paying out the winnings.
Unsurprisingly, there have been many times when people have tried to cheat and win the lottery. These rules are designed to prevent cheating and are more stringently applied to more significant prizes.
In most states, you can quickly cash out a winning ticket at a lottery retailer (gas stations, convenience stores, and grocery stores) if the prize is $599 or less.
You would simply present the ticket, sign the back, show some identification, and hand over the cash if they have it. The process is a bit more complex for prizes that exceed $600 with the jackpot especially being thorough.
The first thing that you’ll need to do is contact the official lottery commission in your state. Typically, the mid-range prizes that are more than $600 and less than the jackpot are paid out the same day you claim the prize.
You’ll still need to validate the ticket, sign the back, and confirm your identity, but you can usually leave the office with your winnings. Sometimes, it might take an additional day or two if you’ve won a substantial prize.
On the other hand, jackpot winnings will take a much longer time to receive. There’s usually at least a 15-day waiting period between the drawing date and when the jackpot is paid out. The reason for this delay is that the sale of lottery tickets primarily funds lotteries.
The lottery commission would first need to collect the money generated by the ticket sales before it could afford to pay you. You could claim the prize during this time, but you won’t see a single dime until after the money is collected.
You’re still likely to wait a bit longer after the initial 15 days have passed. Once the money has been collected, it usually takes five to ten business days to hit your account.
Banks are often wary of handling such large transfers, and not all are equipped to handle jackpots. At the earliest, you should plan to receive your lottery winnings between three and four weeks after the draw date.
Don’t Play Waiting Games
The time it takes to receive your lottery winnings depends on several factors. The most important of these factors is the amount that you’ve won.
You can redeem most prizes all at once, but the jackpots will typically take much longer. You should expect to wait up to a month before seeing the first dollar of your jackpot winnings.
Here at Yotta, we don’t wait to pay out your winnings.
The final number of the free weekly drawings will be revealed every Sunday at 9 P.M. EST. There is no long or drawn process to claim your winnings, and the money will automatically be deposited into your account.
You can sleep Sunday night as a winner and wake up Monday morning as a millionaire. It’s just that simple.