Winning over a billion dollars could come with some pitfalls, Atlanta lottery players say

ATLANTA — The chance to win $1.2 billion brought out the smiles at a Cobb County gas station on Thursday, but winning that much money could also come with some pitfalls.

“I would talk to my attorney and keep it a secret,” said Powerball player Brenda Steele.

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Marshaun Herring said, “This day and age, you’ve got to keep it a secret, on the hush-hush, but I will be giving back though — just quiet, like a secret Santa.”

That’s the right call, according to attorney Stephanie Casteel, who represented a 19-year-old in Georgia who won about $60 million playing the lottery.


“Keeping it quiet and keeping it private is going to go a long way to keeping yourself safe, and keeping yourself from everybody contacting you, wanting your money,” said Casteel.

She says her client went public with her big win before she could advise her against it.

“She just got bombarded with phone calls, and cards and gifts and balloons and letters. Everybody wanted money,” said Casteel.

She says along with keeping it quiet, lottery winners should also establish a team including an accountant, lawyer and financial adviser. Casteel said winners may also want to hire a security team, for their personal and online safety.

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One Georgia man who won $50 million playing the lottery recently told us you may also need to do something else. “Go find somewhere else to live,” he said. “So that no one knows where you are.”

But all the potential pitfalls, don’t prevent players from dreaming.

“A lot of money out there, might as well get a piece of the pie,” said Herring.