Record-high $500 million Powerball jackpot has many asking, 'What if?'

2012-11-27T15:30:00Z 2012-11-28T23:31:03Z Record-high $500 million Powerball jackpot has many asking, 'What if?'Lauri Harvey Keagle lauri.keagle@nwi.com, (219) 852-4311 nwitimes.com

Barb Haizlip, of Highland, knows what she would do if she wins Wednesday's record-high $500 million jackpot.

She'd save the company that let her go a year ago.

"Then the company could survive and everyone would be better off," the Highland woman said while buying her biweekly tickets for the pool of five current and former employees of the company.

Haizlip made her regular stop to buy the tickets at Ceasar's Inc. in Lansing. Karen Deichen, an employee of Ceasar's, said the store has been busy selling Powerball tickets since the jackpot hit $325 million Saturday.

"Yesterday, we had people out the door and it'll happen again around lunch today and tomorrow," Deichen said Tuesday morning.

Many of the people buying Powerball tickets from Deichen are regulars who buy lottery tickets there daily. Most said if they were to win the big jackpot, they would use it to help others.

Rosalyn Lee, of Lansing, said she would take care of her three children and nine grandchildren but would splurge on one thing.

"I would buy me a Lexus 570 truck," Lee said.

She could buy 6,100 of them.

"Yeah, but I only need one," she said.

William Lekas, of Munster, said he doesn't need the money but is playing anyway.

"I'm going on 83 years of age," Lekas said. "God's been good to me. I have been relatively healthy. I've seen hardship in the world, so why not use the money to do some good and help people?"

Frank Kowal, of Munster, said he knows one thing that would change if he won it big.

"My kids would love me a whole lot more than they do," he said, laughing.

Before the dreaming of how to spend it begins, one local expert said there are practical matters to consider.

John Laszlo, a certified public accountant and attorney with Laszlo Rigsby Financial Service in Merrillville, said to keep in mind three things if you have a winning lottery ticket with a substantial payout.

"The first thing I would tell somebody if they got the winning ticket would be to put it in a safe place and not to tell a single soul," Laszlo said.

Determining legal ownership of the ticket is a key first step, he said, so keeping it safe and staying quiet about it is key.

The next step, Laszlo said, is making contact with a trusted financial adviser on how to receive your payment.

Laszlo said there is no easy answer for which payout option to select, either one lump sum or payments over time.

"Every situation is different and in order to make a good decision on that, you need a good adviser," he said.

The final step, he said, is working with the adviser on plans for the money for the future.

"A lot of people win the lottery and find themselves broke in a few years," Laszlo said. "It is not unlimited money. ... There are people who could spend it all."

Laszlo said anyone coming into a large amount of money "will be bombarded and overwhelmed by people wanting to represent them."

He cautions against hiring the first attorney or adviser who comes along, saying careful research needs to take place first.

"Everyone wants a piece of the action," Laszlo said.

The bottom line is to be deliberate in planning for everyday needs and the future, he said.

"If you win (the) Powerball, you should be set for life and your kids should be set for life and their kids should be set for life," Laszlo said. "You don't want to end up blowing it or being taken by someone.

"You don't want to be the guy people see and say, 'See that guy? He won Powerball 15 years ago and now he's broke.'"

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