So when someone hits it as big as the "Lucky 13," lawyers and accountants line up to offer advice. The Ohio machine shop workers who'll share the pot from the record Powerball lottery will each be $12.5 million richer until taxes kick in.
That's plenty of money to pay off the mortgage, get the kids through college and invest in some nice, safe mutual funds. But they can also have a lot of fun.
They could catch the Concorde to London and back every week. They could ride a submarine to the bottom of the sea to view the wreckage of the Titanic. Landlubbers could easily plunk down $260,000 in cash for a shiny new Silver Seraph made by Rolls-Royce.
No matter where they went, they could make sure they arrived on time with a glance at one of 606 Rolex watches the winnings would buy.
Education is as important as ever, and you can send your little genius through all four years of Harvard for $124,528. So Mom or Dad would still have enough money to send another 99 kids into the Ivy League.
Want to take a trip? You could fly to the moon and back 310 times once a fledgling effort to start lunar tourism kicks off. A Washington state aerospace company believes it can soon offer a seat on its "space tourist vehicle" for about $40,000.
If the stratosphere isn't quite your speed, you can take a 25-day flight around the world, touching down in spots like Peru, Easter Island, and Bali for $30,500. Take a friend, and the two of you could circle the globe 203 times.
Perhaps your taste runs to custom jewels. The "Heart of the Ocean" diamond necklace worn by Kate Winslet in the movie "Titanic" was sold for $2.2 million in March. If you don't mind a knockoff of the blue, 75-carat solitaire, you could get 62,626 of them from the J. Peterman catalog, where a replica sells for $198.
Speaking of replicas, a 1928 "French country" manor in Bedford, N.Y., with guest house, pool, four ponds, tennis courts and a nine-car garage is available for $9.95 million.
At that price, you could decorate with Andy Warhol's $2.42 million "Self Portrait," and have enough pocket change for prints of Warhol's trademark Campbell soup can painting.
At least one winner's taste runs to motorcycles Harley-Davidsons in particular. And $12.4 million could buy nearly 1,000 brand-new Softail models.
The practical jackpot winner will invest some money, and the Powerball winners can now contemplate even the priciest stocks. They could buy 180 shares of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, currently trading at $68,700 a share.
Should they yearn to wheel and deal themselves, they could buy nine seats on the New York Stock Exchange; a spot now sells for about $1.35 million.
New York financial planner Stan Chadsy said whatever they do, they should relish it.
"These people have been given more financial freedom than most people will ever have," he said. "They should put some common sense to it, but they should enjoy it."
By Eileen Glanton