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A Massachusetts woman wasted no time starting her new rich life after learning she won the state’s $25 million grand lottery prize. Before cashing in her ticket, she took her and her fiancé on an extravagant Christmas vacation.

According to the state’s lottery site, Desiree Fortini-Craft of Hyde Park participated in the state Lottery’s “Billion Dollar Extravaganza” $50 instant game a few weeks ago. She purchased the winning ticket at Baker Street Market on 419 Baker St. in West Roxbury. Once she scratched her ticket and realized she had won, she hid her ticket in a safe place and booked a trip to Aruba with her fiancé Jason Perkins. Fortini-Craft stated that she and Perkins wanted to “enjoy life,” saying they worked hard and “plan on having a really good Christmas in Aruba.”

She claimed her prize upon returning, opting to receive a lump sum payment of $16,250,000 (before taxes). Fortini-Craft said she had some big purchases, like paying off her three daughters’ student loans, buying a new car and more. Along with Fortini-Craft’s win, the store she purchased the ticket from will receive $50,000 for the sale.

Luck must be on Fortini-Craft’s side because this wasn’t the first time she scored a prize in the millions. In 2006, the Massachusetts resident won $1 million dollars from a Mass Lottery instant ticket. Fortini-Craft obtained the last of the three $25 million prizes as part of the “Billion Dollar Extravaganza” game.

Therefore, all three have been claimed. Residents can still purchase tickets since the game has 15 $1 million prizes unclaimed. The game also has five $2 million grand prizes, and only one was claimed, meaning there are four more out there.

Winning the lottery can be overwhelming to some, and it’s hard to know the next steps. There are ways to be responsible and safe with a big winning lottery ticket.

According to the Pacifica Wealth site, the first step is to keep it on the DL and sign the ticket immediately. It further suggested taking a photo with the signed ticket in case something unforeseen happens, and the person has to prove they’re the ticket owner. The next step is to take care of oneself because these uncommon experiences could lead to anxiety, paranoia and “strange out-of-body” feelings.

The third step is deciding between lump-sum or annuity (annual payments). While many choose lump-sum, some don’t realize that for U.S. citizens, the government withholds 25% for taxes. It’s best to talk with a financial advisor to decide. Assembling a team, from business and tax attorneys to estate attorneys, is advised. But it’s best to find a great lawyer and have them assist you with finding others to join the team.

Depending on the state, some winners aren’t allowed to remain anonymous once they claim their prize, like in Florida. Therefore, be prepared to have publicity and decide what information is sharable and what isn’t.

Lastly, winning the lottery doesn’t mean life is changing, but possibly improving. Experts recommend listing life aspects one wants to remain the same. Money can sometimes enhance a life.

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