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Lottery winners urged to avoid big purchases

ST. LOUIS — Jackpots like Wednesday's anticipated $400 million-plus Powerball can grant a lot of wishes. But what if you were the only winner, and you had but one chance to blow all that money on a single purchase?

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If you ignore the cautious advice of accountants and money managers and are ready to spend big, real estate listings, auction houses and even simple web searches are full of ideas to separate you and your newfound wealth.

A single winner taking the lump sum payout would end up with about $230 million. Opting for the quick cash grab, accounting for taxes, would still leave more than $100 million to invest wisely.

Or spend frivolously, if that's how you roll.

"When you look at $100 million, you think that well will never run dry," said Mark DiGiovanni, a certified financial planner in Atlanta. "If you have $100 million and lose it, that's probably worse than having never won at all."

Changes in the ways big multistate lotteries like Powerball and Mega Millions are played have increased the frequency of staggering jackpots. The nation's biggest lottery prize was a $656 million dollar Mega Millions jackpot in March 2012 that was shared by three winning tickets sold in Kansas, Illinois and Maryland. The second-largest came in December, a $636 million Mega Millions prize. The two winning tickets were purchased in San Jose, Calif., and Atlanta. The biggest Powerball jackpot ever was a $590.5 million prize won by a Florida woman last May.

St. Louis security guard Gerald Mukes, 36, has modest aspirations. He plays Powerball three to four times each month and planned to purchase several tickets before Wednesday's drawing. Pressed for his wish list, Mukes could only muster a $100,000 home, though he did suggest an interest in traveling the world "like a rolling stone" before settling down.

"Nothing superbig," he said. "I understand about being hungry."

But why let a little common sense get in the way your dreams?

Home by the sea?

About $130 million would get you Copper Beech Farm in Greenwich, Ct. The 13,500-square-foot home once owned by the Lauder Greenway family has 12 bedrooms and seven full bathrooms on 50 acres overlooking Cos Cob Harbor.

Or, save a few bucks and head to Fiji, where $25 million is the listed price of Koro Island, a South Pacific getaway apparently endorsed by no less an authority than the 19th century seafaring explorer William Bligh, according to an online real estate listing.

Movin' on up, to the east side?

If you're a city slicker, your $100 million could still go a long way, even in the hyper-expensive real estate market of New York City. But you'd better act fast if you want your money to stand out. A town house in Manhattan's Upper East Side recently sold for $100 million to the state of Qatar, which plans to turn the home into a consulate in what would likely be the most expensive residential sale in New York's history.

Travel in luxury

Care to travel by sea or air? An online luxury yacht broker lists the 213-foot Ambrosia III for $79.4 million, complete with a crew of 20. And while it might not be for sale, perhaps an offer can be made to movie director Tyler Perry, who reportedly owns a Gulfstream III private jet valued at an estimated $125 million. The jet features TV and video screens galore, theater lighting and remote controlled window shades.

Expensive art

If you fancy fine art, a Wednesday win would instantly put you in play for rare works by impressionists Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Some of their paintings are expected to fetch from $10 million to $35 million apiece at auctions this spring. For $50 million, the total collection from the private trove of deceased New York copper heiress Huguette Clark could be yours. The sale by Christie's auction house includes a Stradivari violin, Gilded Age furniture and rare books.

Lottery winners urged to avoid big purchases 02/18/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 11:22am]
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