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The Mega Millions lottery jackpot now sits at an astounding $1.1 billion ahead of Friday night’s drawing — which would be the second-highest number in the lottery’s history.
Players across 45 states, Washington, DC and the Virgin Islands will hope Lady Luck smiles as they buy their Mega Millions tickets today.
What does it feel like to win millions of dollars?
One person is sharing.
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Tim Schultz won $28 million back in 1999 by playing the Iowa Powerball.
“It’s just exhilaration after you win,” he told Fox News Digital in a phone interview this week.
Schultz was working at an Iowa gas station and sold the winning ticket to himself.
At the time, he was a struggling college student, working his way through school by pumping gas. A few months before that, he’d had a “very vivid” dream that he won the lottery.
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This dream was so real, “I felt as if it was likely going to happen at some point,” he said of winning the lottery.
He had a “gut feeling” when he purchased the ticket, telling friends and co-workers at a card game that night that he was going to win.
Then it actually happened — he woke up the next day to find out he had won. It was “very surreal,” said Schultz.
Media outlets at the time reported that one of Schultz’s co-workers, 20-year-old Sarah Eldar, said she wanted to buy half of his ticket when he purchased what would be the winning numbers.
Once Schultz won, she said she wanted her share of the lottery winnings — and challenged him in court.
It turned out that in Iowa, you have to be 21 years of age to play the lottery, so Eldar was ineligible to collect any winnings.
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Eldar eventually renounced all claims to the jackpot, Playusalotteries.com said.
The lottery can affect a person’s happiness positively or negatively, said Schultz — and every winner is different.
“At a certain point I felt a sense of isolation – none of my peers or my family or my friends had won the lottery.”
“Where you live, who surrounds you, who your friends are and how much you win” are all factors, he noted.
“For myself, initially it was extremely exhilarating,” he said. “But once that wears off — and it does — you are still yourself.”
He continued, “The lottery doesn’t change who you are, but it does magnify your personality and your ability to do what you want to do.”
It wasn’t easy having such a huge life event happen to him, said Schultz.
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“Once that exhilaration wore off, I was still extremely grateful for this life-changing win — and I have never, ever taken that for granted — but there were some things I had to learn,” he shared.
“If I wanted to go on vacation I had to pay for other people [to go].”
“At a certain point I felt a sense of isolation. None of my peers or my family or my friends had won the lottery — and I was only 21 at the time, a struggling college student working at a gas station to put myself through school .”
“I felt sort of like an outcast,” he continued. “If I wanted to go on vacation I had to pay for other people [to go].”
Schultz said he “learned a lot of life lessons.”
“I learned that the lottery can buy you time [with others]and that’s invaluable, and winning can be a very, very positive thing.”
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He added, “I’m the same person that I was before winning — I never loved material possessions, so I felt pretty level-headed and laid back about it.”
In Iowa, lottery winners’ identities are disclosed to the public, and people “came out of the woodwork” asking for money after he won, he said.
“I got a team of financial advisers, people that were qualified and trustworthy, that could tell me how much I could and could not spend,” he explained, noting that this was very important.
“Once I developed a game plan, I helped people as much as I could — people I loved and cared about that were in my life — and did what I felt I could for other people. I did a lot of things for other people. “
“I received a lot of media attention initially, and at the time I was a fairly shy person that didn’t really like that sort of attention. I couldn’t even go to a grocery store without people knowing who I was.”
Schultz now interviews other lottery winners on his YouTube channel, noting that they often “have very similar experiences.”
(Just below is his interview with a “Cash for Life” winner.)
How well a person handles sudden wealth “varies on who you are as a person, and what your goals in life are,” he said.
Schultz does not share where he currently lives, or his family or marital status, keeping his private life private.
“I received a lot of media attention initially, and at the time I was a fairly shy person that didn’t really like that sort of attention,” he said. “I couldn’t even go to a grocery store without people knowing who I was.”
“My advice to anyone who wins is to relax, don’t make any rash decisions and seek qualified financial advisers.”
He added, “Now I don’t mind that type of thing at all. I embrace it.”
He said he loves speaking to reporters, now, having gone to college for journalism and broadcasting. “I love interviewing people, too.”
Schultz finds it “very cathartic and interesting” to interview other people who have won the lottery.
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“It’s one of the most rare things that can happen to somebody. It’s a small club we’re in together.”
His advice for the person or people who win Mega Millions?
He said, “First, congratulations! Then I would say, Buckle up because it can really turn life on its head. It is one of the most potentially life-altering things that can happen to a person.”
Schultz added, “My advice to anyone who wins is to relax, don’t make any rash decisions and seek qualified financial advisers. Gain an understanding of what you can realistically do with the money — and then try and enjoy life.”