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Powerball winners: Cautionary tales, lessons from past lottery winners

Past winners of mega-lottery drawings and financial planners offer advice to Powerball winners on how to manage a $500 million windfall. How to avoid the pitfalls of instant Powerball wealth.

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A crowd of people line up outside the Arizona Last Stop convenience store and souvenir shop to buy Powerball tickets, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, in White Hills, Ariz. The jackpothas reached a record $500 million, it is the second-highest jackpot in lottery history, behind only the $656 million Mega Millions prize in March.

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

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So you just won the $500 million Powerball jackpot, the second highest in lottery history. Now what?

Perhaps it's time for a tropical vacation or a new car. There are bills to pay, loans to settle, debts to square.

Past winners of mega-lottery drawings and financial planners have some more sound advice: Stick to a budget, invest wisely, learn to say no and be prepared to lose friends while riding an emotional roller-coaster of joy, anxiety, guilt and distrust.

"I had to adapt to this new life, "said Sandra Hayes, 52, a former child services social worker who split a $224 million Powerball jackpot with a dozen co-workers in 2006, collecting a lump sum she said was in excess of $6 million after taxes. "I had to endure the greed and the need that people have, trying to get you to release your money to them. That caused a lot of emotional pain. These are people who you've loved deep down, and they're turning into vampires trying to suck the life out of me."

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The single mother kept her job with the state of Missouri for another month and immediately used her winnings to pay off an estimated $100,000 in student loans and a $70,000 mortgage. She spent a week in Hawaii and bought a new Lexus, but six years later still shops at discount stores and lives on a fixed income — albeit, at a higher monthly allowance than when she brought home paychecks of less than $500 a week.

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