Chris Manzi, a print shop owner from New Jersey, went to work the day after winning a Mega Millions jackpot last year—at 5 a.m. no less.
He had just won $3.5 million, his after-tax portion of a $14 million Mega Millions jackpot he shared with a friend. Instead of skipping town on a chartered jet, he followed his father’s wisdom: invest and work hard.
“The lottery gives you a little bit of a handbook and a guide telling you what to do and what not to do,” Manzi said on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” on Tuesday. “But having my financial advisers and my family and friends who gave me some good advice, … I followed my father’s practices.”
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The latest Mega Millions jackpot, about $636 million, dwarfs Manzi’s winnings. The drawing is at 11 p.m. EST Tuesday. Working in New York and living in New Jersey, a $3.5 million check did not seem like a major change, Manzi said.
That new Mega Millions jackpot? The one that could hit $1 billion if no one wins before Christmas? That’s different.
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“That’s a life changer,” Manzi said. “You really have to swallow that kind money. Most people don’t know how to invest money, and that’s why people end up in financial trouble. If you look at most lottery winners, most of them are broke already.”
Manzi won his jackpot in October 2012, along with Willie McPherson, with whom he had bought $20 worth of lottery tickets a week for nearly two decades. It worked out for Manzi, but the odds don’t bode well for most.
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“It sounds like a lot of money over the course of time but look at the reward we got,” Manzi said. “Do I recommend everyone go out and say, ‘My next dream is hitting the Mega Millions? I’m going to put my life savings in it?’ I don’t think so.”
— By CNBC’s Jeff Morganteen. Follow him on Twitter at @jmorganteen