CUMBERLAND — Decisions, decisions, decisions.
That is what the local Powerball winner is going to have to make after learning that he, or she or they, won Wednesday’s night’s $731.1 million jackpot.
The holder of the winning ticket may remain anonymous under Maryland law, although winners in nearby Pennsylvania and West Virginia are required to be publicly identified.
So, how will the winner specifically choose to receive the nearly three-quarter billion dollar jackpot?
The options, according to the Maryland Lottery agency, are to take $731 million paid in 30 graduated payments over 29 years or take the jackpot lump sum of $546 million.
Late Thursday morning, the Times-News contacted James G. Stahl, a registered investment adviser and branch manager of a brokerage firm in Cumberland, to consider the options available to the Powerball winner.
Stahl said he would advise the jackpot winner to “take the cash lump sum and turn it into equity.”
The Washington Street businessman who relocated from Hagerstown to Cumberland in 1990 said taking the winnings in graduated payments over 29 years would be adversely affected by inflation.
“For example, an ounce of gold was worth $20 in 1925. Now, it’s worth approximately $2,000. Inflation would make your dollars worth a lot less over 29 years.
“But if you take the lump sum now and convert it to equity, it’s going to appreciate — like the value of your house.
“The short answer is I would advise the winner to take their money and put it into real estate, big mutual funds and holdings that are going to increase in value over time,” Stahl said.
“If you would take the $546 million all at once and put it into equity, it will probably grow back to the $730 million in a few years,” he said.
Stahl said taxes are historically at their lowest level in the U.S., and they are likely to increase over the coming years.
“When you convert cash into equity, you don’t have to pay taxes in the equity until you sell it,” Stahl said. “Uncle Sam is always going to get his in the end.”