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What Happens When You Win the Lottery

A Firsthand Account of What REALLY Happens After You Win the Lottery

Winning the lottery is life-changing — for better or for worse. We can all surmise what winning a huge chunk of cash may actually feel like, but . . . then what? Canadian Imgur user newfoundking won a cool million several months ago, then followed up his announcement with an explanation of the process behind winning big money. The fact that Canadians don't pay taxes on their lottery winnings is yet another reason Canada is looking pretty good these days — in the US, taxes on lottery winnings vary by state. So, what's the process? Here's what he had to say about his own experience.

1. You get your ticket validated.

"You read your ticket, see your numbers all match and scream, curse, cry, all that stuff. Once that's out of your system, the first thing you need to do is get your ticket validated to confirm you're actually a winner. On bottom, that unique barcode gets scanned and you get a little slip which says 'major prize alert', it's about two feet long and has specific instructions on how to claim your winnings and everything. Essentially it all boils down to sign the ticket, back and front. Guard it with your life."

2. Then call the lotto office.

"It's staffed between all the hours when the lotto tickets can be validated. You read them the slip number, they confirm it was indeed printed and everything you said, and then you have to report to the closest lotto office to wherever you live. I'm in a major metro city, so I went to the main office, but I supposed if you lived far away, you could mail it . . . "

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3. You go in to the office (and get your giant check!).

"Once you go in, they collect all your info, send the ticket off and give you the next steps for a celebration where you collect your money, and send away the original. We took a photocopy of the ticket to frame, but they kept the original for their records I guess. We did get the giant check though!"

4. You then alert your bank.

"When it's all said and done there, you need to call your bank and tell them about the extremely large incoming deposit (apparently they block that stuff if it's abnormal) and then in two hours time, it's there. We didn't have to pay any taxes on it, since we're Canadian, and awesome."

5. You guard that ticket with your life!

"The first question you're asked by everyone involved in the lotto corp, and eventually by everyone who asks, is where do you hide the ticket until you have the money? Well, we put it under a clock. Not for safe keeping, just to keep it somewhere it wouldn't get touched or moved."

6. You deal with people finding out.

"The lotto is something that everyone we were related to and our friends knew and asked about, but as time passes, people haven't known. It may come up in conversation, but now it's kind of a part of our past we don't brag about. The congratulations now very rare to what they were before, but they do still come up once in a while.

"More or less, now we just kind of don't talk about it or bring it up as it brings a lot of unwanted things with it. One particular story is that we went to a fundraising dinner and auction, as we always have and the lovely auctioneer introduced us as the newest lotto winners. Well, that made things pretty awkward. Yes, we still donated our fair share (we were around mid-range wealth in that room) but lotto winning doesn't allow for a lot of fair judgement by the masses, as it's not seen as deserved money."

7. You enjoy it!

"Thankfully it wasn't an ungodly sum we'd be tortured to share, but it still brings unwanted expectations when you announce it, so now the honeymoon has passed and we've all celebrated, it's just time to quietly enjoy the remnants of the money and the investments with it, while we continue with our merry lives."

8. You (hopefully) spend it wisely.

"A million is large, but not too large. We bought a house, paid off debts, all that important stuff and we're all living comfortably now. Yes everything is new, but it's not too extravagant, living within our means still. With the lack of debt, we all have more money to spend, so we've been vacationing and saving more too. It's important to enjoy the money, but not let it ruin you. The Kraft Dinner was actually our celebration meal (we're not poor, just forgot to buy groceries in the shock of it all) and it's kinda our joke now."

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