LUTZ, Fla. (WFLA) – One ticket, one very lucky winner. The Florida Lottery says one person purchased a Powerball ticket, worth $238 million from the Publix on Nebraska Avenue in Lutz.
Shoppers outside of the store were amazed.
“As far as I know this is the closest one to my house. I just live right down the road. Wow, somebody is really, really happy right now,” Tony Cala said.
However, not every lottery winner is lucky and some have met with major failure. In 2006, 41-year-old Lakeland resident Abraham Shakespeare won $30 million. Two years later he was murdered by a woman who was after his wealth.
In 2002, Jack Whittaker of West Virginia $314 million in a Powerball drawing. The former construction worker squandered the money on bad investments, alcohol and gifts to family members and strangers and ended up broke.
Pinellas County Attorney Walt Blenner has advised major lottery winners in the past.
“I represented a three million dollar winner and that kind of got me started. Not many people who win three million dollars need a lawyer but that gentleman had very little experience with any sort of money,” Blenner said.
He’s also advised a person who won $451 million.
“When you jump ahead to extreme wealth and basically anything over 150 million dollars is extreme wealth, basically everybody needs help,” Blenner said.
He says when he advised the major winner they needed to move into a new home, they were reluctant at first.
“When I told my big lottery winner in 2018, I know you just kind of moved to Florida and you are just settling in and you love your new house but you’ve got to get out of there and when they said they really didn’t want to I encouraged them to look into some insurance companies which actually do offer hostage and ransom insurance,” Blenner said.
Blenner adds many lottery winners make mistakes on their own.
“70 percent of all lottery winners, are people who come into great wealth and are bankrupt within five years,” Blenner said citing a report from the National Endowment for Financial Education.
He advises clients not to tell anyone of their winnings, and to get a financial team in place before claiming the prize.
“Line up your team, because you are going to need wealth management, you are going to need a tax lawyer and you are going to need a CPA, those are the long-term people. My job is rather short, once I help them hire their team, keep them safe, redeem their ticket in Tallahassee, my job is pretty much done,” Blenner said.
The clock is ticking for the new local millionaire. The Florida Lottery says winners have 60 days to claim their prize from the date of the drawing if they want to take the one-time cash payout.