In the wake of the Mega Millions hoopla, Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page has some lighthearted advice for lottery winners.
First, if you become a winner, you should be prepared to gain a lot of new friends and lose others, especially if you chipped in with a group to buy the winning ticket. Witness the McDonald's employee in Maryland who claimed to hold a winning Mega Millions ticket as an individual, the New York Post reported, even though she also bought tickets for several other people as part of a restaurant pool. If true, she could be the latest of many targets in group lottery lawsuits.
Advice: If you play with friends, keep careful records. As filmmaker Samuel Goldwyn is said somewhat inaccurately to have stated, an oral contract is not worth more the paper it's written on.
Another hazard: impulse buying. One legendary case was the late William "Bud" Post III, who died six years ago at age 66. He won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania Lottery in 1988. Within three months, according to an obituary in The Washington Post, he was $500,000 in debt after buying a liquor license, a lease on a Florida restaurant for his brother and sister, a used-car lot and its fleet for another brother and a twin-engine plane, although he did not have a pilot's license.
Read Clarence Page's entire column at the Chicago Tribune.