When I win the lottery

Staff WriterOctober 4, 2009 

The Powerball jackpot was $193 million last night. Which meant everyone's been rehearsing the speech.

You've given it in your car driving to work.

You've hit the Powerball, and, cameras rolling, you proclaim it won't change your life. Maybe you'll upgrade to a newer Buick; nothing fancy. You will, of course, pay off the church's note. Quit work? Nope.

But what would happen if you actually hit the jackpot? What's your next step? Not the speech, but the part that happens when you go to collect.

I called Pamela Walker, spokeswoman for the N.C. Education Lottery.

First off, she said, it's a good idea to let us know you're coming, so we can meet you at the front door at Yonkers Road.

You will be met by security folks, she said. Probably big, bulky guys, I'm thinking. They'll take you into a room, and other folks in another room start figuring out whether this is a real winning ticket. Me, I would get the willies as my ticket left the room. But, according to Walker, the handover is done in front of a camera and witnesses, all proper-like. Meanwhile, you will be told of the big decision you have to make: The lump sum or the installment plan?

If you take the lump sum, you're not going to walk out with the money. North Carolina puts the arm on the 31 other Powerball sponsors and says, "We got a winner. Y'all need to pony up your share of the jackpot." Then you don't get the headline-number loot, but the discounted value of the installments, minus taxes.

Now, in my Powerball dream, I win Saturday night, barricade myself in my closet today with the ticket and a couple of packs of Slim Jims (my wife is outside the door going, "Honey, is anything wrong?") and I'm driving to Yonkers Road tout de suite Monday morning.

That's not what happened with Jackie Alston of Halifax, who bought a $74.5 million ticket in November 2006. She stuck the ticket in a safe deposit box, consulted with advisers, then showed up in a limo in February 2007.

The next winner, Jeff Wilson of Kings Mountain, did it my way last June with an $88.1 million jackpot. He hit on a Saturday and came forward Monday.

By the way, having written this, there's an outside chance I jinxed my shot at the jackpot, diminishing my otherwise excellent 1 in 195 million odds.

But if I did win last night, I've got my speech ready. And so, I'll bet, do you.

Senior editor Dan Barkin is filling in for Rob Christensen. or 919-829-4562

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