A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

13 Things Lotto Winners Won’t Tell You: Life After Winning the Lottery

Updated: Mar. 15, 2024

Winning the lottery seems like a stroke of luck, but what about life after lotto? Past winners weigh in on losing friends, becoming spectacles, and increasing the odds of striking it rich.

Mega Millions lottery tickets for sale
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

What’s life after lotto like?

Winning the lottery sounds like a dream come true. Money woes are obliterated in an instant, and the future looks bright thanks to newfound financial freedom. Sure, it seems fabulous at first glance, but there’s more to winning the lottery than meets the eye. Before you play the most winning lottery numbers and study which state has the most lottery winners, read up on what past lottery winners have to say about life after lotto. It may be much different than you expected.

man handing cash to another person
krisanapong detraphiphat/Getty Images

Easy come, easy go

Life after winning the lottery may not stay glamorous forever. Whether they win $500 million or $1 million, about 70 percent of lotto winners lose or spend all that money in five years or less. Read the story of a lottery ticket dispute that starts with a couple going in on a ticket and ends with the woman taking the money and running.

crumpled lottery ticket on the floor
Evgen_Prozhyrko/Getty Images

Take a second chance

Always play the second-chance drawings. Some games require you to mail in your losing ticket. Others tell you to go online and register the ticket’s serial number. People either don’t know about the drawings or don’t take the time to enter, so your odds of winning the lottery are always better. On another note, it’s important to remember that cheating comes with a price—this man who rigged the lottery five times is proof of that.

person holding Winning Lottery Ticket
Saturated/Getty Images

Don’t quit while you’re ahead

Do lotto winners still play the lottery? They absolutely do. And they’re sure they’re going to win again. That’s one aspect of life after lotto that won’t change.

A perplexed woman checks her smart phone
Catherine Falls Commercial/Getty Images

You will be exploited—possibly by your friends

“I had one friend who told me this sob story about how behind she was on her local taxes and how they were going to take her house because she couldn’t pay,” says one lottery winner. “After she left, I got on my computer, looked up her tax records, and saw that she wasn’t behind. When I printed out that page and sent it to her, well, that was the end of our friendship.”

pile of hundred dollar bills
Kativ/Getty Images

A lot can seem like a little

If you win $6 million and find yourself in a room full of lotto winners who won $100 million or more, all of a sudden, you feel like the poor one. It’s all relative. But don’t feel too bummed—there are plenty of big lottery winners whose money (and luck) ran out.

Beautiful Swimming Pool at an Estate Home
TerryJ/Getty Images

You’ll answer for our impulse purchases

“After we won the lottery, we bought an eight-bedroom, seven-bath, 10,000-square-foot mansion because we could, and it sounded amazing,” says one past winner. “Well, now we’re selling the eight-bedroom, seven-bath mansion because it’s impractical for a family of four.”

Smiling male entrepreneur holding champagne looking through window in private jet
Westend61/Getty Images

You’re looked down upon by the truly wealthy

“After we won and moved into an exclusive neighborhood, we planned a huge Fourth of July party and invited all our neighbors,” says a former lottery winner. “None of them came—they thought we didn’t earn our money.”

Unrecognizable woman talking with friend
SDI Productions/Getty Images

You’ll be sick of money questions

“It drives me nuts when people ask where I keep the money, how I spend it, and if I still have it,” says a past winner. “No one would dream of asking a CEO those questions.” We understand you’re curious, though, so here are secrets rich people won’t tell you about their lives.

group of friends toasting with champagne glasses
ti-ja/Getty Images

Your friends will change with your lifestyle

Life after winning the lottery may bring big changes for everyone in your life. All lotto winners think they’re going to have the same friends and do the same things. But if you have $100 million and you want to fly to Hong Kong for the weekend, you need to either find someone who can afford to go with you or be willing to subsidize someone. And subsidizing people gets old.

Paparazzi Photographing Celebrities
Patrik Giardino/Getty Images

You may be forced into the spotlight

If you think you’re going to win and remain anonymous, you’d better check your state laws. Many states require that you do a news conference and hold up a big check.

woman putting money into tip jar at cafe
JGI/Getty Images

’Tis better to give

“Now that I can buy anything I want, I’ve learned that what really matters—and what I enjoy most—is being able to do things that help other people,” says one lottery winner. Something small but important that helps: tipping properly. Here’s how much to tip in every situation.

Close up View of Hand Writing A Donation Check
donald_gruener/Getty Images

Don’t donate all at once

If you want to give a charity a big sum of money, never give it all at once. It’s better to donate $100,000 a year for ten years so you can retain some control and make sure the cash is being spent wisely.

Woman looking out of luxury house window
Erik Isakson/Getty Images

Who are we kidding? Life after lotto is great.

You haven’t lived until someone picks up the laundry from your front porch and brings it back to you that night, completely done and neatly folded.


  • Donna Mikkin, who won $34.5 million in the New York State Lottery in 2007
  • Sandra Hayes, a social worker who split a $224 million Powerball with her coworkers in 2006 and wrote How Winning the Lottery Changed My Life
  • Seven-time lottery game grand-prize winner Richard Lustig, who wrote Learn How to Increase Your Chances of Winning the Lottery
  • Don McNay, a financial consultant to lottery winners and the author of Life Lessons from the Lottery
Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest