Suppose You Won the $355M Mega Millions Lottery Jackpot: What Next?

Odds of winning the top prize about 1 in 176 million. But what if it was you?

ByABC News
January 3, 2011, 11:15 PM

Jan. 4, 2011— -- It had to take a whole lot of luck to win Tuesday night's big $355 million Mega Millions jackpot drawing against astronomical odds.

But guess what? If you picked numbers 15, 47, 4, 25, 8 and mega number 42, out of all the people who lined up in 41 states and the District of Columbia, you did it.

So congratulations. Now, what do you do next?

First of all, you won't ever see the full $355 million. Off the top, the lottery withholds 25 percent for federal taxes, and then another 6 or 7 percent for those who have state taxes, which vary by location. And you still could owe many millions more.

Lee McDaniels won $5 million in September. On Tuesday, he was relaxing on a golf course outside Atlanta.

"After taxes and everything," he said, "I got about $2.8 million."

His advice for the big $355 million winner? Take some time to get your affairs together, study up and get a financial advisor.

"I would just take about a month before I would do anything," he said.

Margaret DeFrancisco of the Georgia Lottery Corp. had more advice.

"Change your phone number and learn how to say no," she said.

Then, there's always the question of whether you should take the annuity or the much lower one-time payment?

Financial analyst Ray Lucia said that, for purposes of this daydream and this huge jackpot, "I'm going to take the annuity payment of about $9 million a year, net of tax."

For the $355 million jackpot, the annuity would pay $13.6 million each year for the next 26 years, so you won't be able to spend all of your winnings at once.