You just won the $2B Powerball jackpot - now what? A look at the 'winner's handbook'

So you just won the $2 billion Powerball jackpot - congratulations! 

That or you're just curious to see what happens next for the lucky billionaire (who isn't you) that gets to claim the billion-dollar prize. 

This is where the Winner's Handbook comes into play. Bet you didn't even know this existed! 

"If you plan well, surround yourself with trusted advisors and make smart decisions this will be one of the best experiences of your life," the winner's handbook begins. 

Do not lose your ticket

First step? Don't lose your ticket! 

You cannot claim your prize without your ticket, so keep it somewhere safe.

Jackpot winners have a year to come forward. Once they come forward, officials go through a rigorous process that can weeks, if not months, one lottery official told us. 

So pack your patience!

Can I remain anonymous?

According to California public disclosure laws, your name is public record. This means the media will try to contact you about your win, so lottery officials suggest you consider taking party in media availability. Lottery officials can help you with planning and guide you through this process.

Should I manage all the money by myself?

Not exactly, officials said. They recommend you hire an attorney to help you protect your assets, as well as an accountant to make sure your taxes are in order every year now that you've got all this money. 

If you plan to invest your money, do so wisely. You may consider the services of a qualified investment planner. Officials suggest you interview at least three and select the one you are most comfortable with. You may decide you want to hire an attorney, an accountant and an investment planner from three different firms so that they act independently of one another.

When do I get my check?

If you elected the cash option or if your prize is only offered in a single payment, your check should arrive approximately six to eight weeks from your claim date. If your prize is to be paid in installments, your first payment should be available within six to eight weeks from your claim date. 

How exactly does the lottery's payment system work?

By default, all Powerball jackpots are paid in 30 graduated installments. A winner is given the opportunity to choose the cash value of their jackpot prize within 60 days following their approved claim. The payment option you choose will apply to all claimants in a multiple ownership claim.

What will I pay in taxes?

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires the California Lottery to withhold federal taxes from many prizes. However, you’ll be happy to learn that there is no California state or local tax withholdings. 

The withholding rate for federal income tax is based, in part, on a claimant’s resident status.

The Lottery is required to withhold federal taxes of 24% for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens providing a social security number, and 24% for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens not providing a social security number.

What if I die before I receive all the payments?

In the event of a prize winner’s death, representatives of the estate will need to contact the Lottery’s Prize Payments Annuity Desk in order to begin the process of transitioning payments to the beneficiaries. All remaining installment payments will be paid to the appropriate heirs of the estate. The annuity payment option cannot be changed.

Can I assign my winnings or sell it to another party?

Winners of prizes paid in installments may assign future prize payments to a third party or use their winnings as collateral for a loan. If you are planning to assign your prize payments to another party, there are specific regulations that affect this process. 

How should I handle requests for donations?

Many winners have shared their winnings with their favorite charities. You may receive requests for donations from many sources, including friends, family and individuals from organizations or charities that are unfamiliar to you. Take time to investigate the legitimacy of any organization or charity before you make a donation.

Additional tips

Lottery officials said it may be a good idea to change your phone number or use a voicemail system to screen your calls as you can imagine you'll be getting an influx of calls from your "long lost relatives." Same goes for your email and snail mail. Consider getting a post office box to screen unsolicited requests. 

If you do happen to build a "wealth management team," designate select members as intermediaries to act as your spokesperson when responding to such requests and to intercept information from organizations. 

If you didn't win, go back to work.

>> Tap or click here to view the full Winner's Handbook <<