The mother of two never originally meant to buy the lottery ticket that changed her life.
When 46-year-old Oksana Zaharov asked the Manhattan store clerk for a $1 “scratch-off,” she was handed a $10 “Set For Life” ticket instead. She says that she “felt bad” and “decided to just go ahead and buy it.” Then she used it as a bookmark for a couple of weeks before checking. “I never win anything,” she said. “I was sure the ticket was fake. It wasn’t until I brought it into the office that I knew it was for real.”
For the remainder of Zaharov’s life, she will receive $5,000 per week. That is about five million over the course of 20 years, and the minimum amount that the winning ticket guarantees. Still, should she live even longer, her total payout could be much higher. Zaharov will start with a trip to the Bahamas with her family, and then focus on ensuring that her children will receive their education debt-free. 2017 saw several other big winners, including one Mavis Wanczyk, who took home a lump sum of more than $480 million after winning the “Powerball” in Chicopee, Massachusetts.
Even after taxes, Zaharov’s $260,000 a year could virtually guarantee a life free of financial stress. Still, even that kind of money is not guaranteed to solve all problems. In fact, according to MIT, lottery winners of all stripes are much more likely to declare bankruptcy within a few years. Economist Jay L. Zagorsky, of the U.S. News and World Report, has said that “Studies found that instead of getting people out of financial trouble, winning the lottery got people into more trouble, since bankruptcy rates soared for lottery winners three to five years after winning.”
Unfortunately, the people most likely to buy lottery tickets are often the least capable of wisely managing the money they could win. For the sake of her children, we can only hope Zaharov bucks the odds one more time.
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