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If I Won the Lottery

By Nicole Seghetti - Apr 5, 2013 at 4:15PM

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A step-by-step guide in case you hit it big.

If you have a pulse, odds are good that the "If I won the lottery" daydream has crossed your mind. It probably includes thoughts of sun-filled days and carefree living. But the reality of winning the lottery is actually quite different than the fantasy.

Pedro Quezada is a name you likely didn't recognize until very recently. Just last week, this Dominican Republic-born man essentially struck gold by winning a $338 million Powerball jackpot. When asked how his life would change, the New Jersey resident replied, "It has to change. Imagine... so much money. But it will not change my heart." At the time of claiming his prize, this humble man's only plans for the money were to buy a car. After all, he said, he'd like to replace his current means of transportation -- his feet.

We often think of the good that could come from huge lottery winnings, but an overnight multimillion-dollar fortune can also yield the bad, and oftentimes the very ugly. In less time than it takes to say "jackpot," word of Quezada's winnings spread like wildfire. We learned that he owed $30,000 in back child support, which he quickly paid after securing his megamillionaire status. Anonymity is powerful, until we lack it. Pedro's life will never be the same.

Of course, the odds of a Vanna White lookalike calling out each of your Powerball picks is a long shot. But many individuals face similar situations. Anyone who inherits a large sum of money or sells a successful business can draw parallels to Quezada's story. Perhaps you've already faced a similar scenario or will encounter one in the future.

So, in the spirit of this recent lottery winner, we've come up with timeless nuggets of advice. Think of it as a handy step-by-step guide that can be applied to these types of scenarios. We'll review how to stay grounded, what to do before you collect the money, decisions you'll face when claiming your winnings, and what life will look like after payday.

Who knows? You may want to print this guide out, and save it for your lucky day.

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