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What happens to Lotto winners in the Philippines?

Winning the lottery is a dream for many people around the world. The chance to win millions overnight and live a life of luxury is very appealing. However, winning the lottery, especially a big jackpot prize, can also come with challenges and change a person’s life in unexpected ways. In this article, we will explore what typically happens when someone wins big in the Lotto in the Philippines.

How much can you win in the Philippine Lotto?

There are a few different Lotto games in the Philippines operated by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). The minimum jackpot prize varies for each game but can be anywhere from Php 8 million to Php 75 million. Some of the largest jackpot prizes awarded include:

  • Php 741 million Grand Lotto 6/55 jackpot in 2016
  • Php 458 million Grand Lotto 6/55 jackpot in 2018
  • Php 298 million Ultra Lotto 6/58 jackpot in 2020

As you can see, the jackpot prizes run into the hundreds of millions of pesos. Winning such a massive amount can completely change someone’s life in an instant.

Do Lotto winners get the full jackpot amount?

Unfortunately, Lotto winners in the Philippines do not get to keep the entire jackpot amount. Just like in other countries, taxes have to be paid on lottery winnings.

For jackpots above Php 10,500, a 20% tax is deducted upfront. An additional 12% value-added tax (VAT) is also deducted for amounts over Php 10,000. There may also be additional deductions for philhealth and other contributions.

Therefore, the amount that the winner actually takes home is less than the advertised jackpot. For example, on a Php 100 million jackpot, the winner may only receive around Php 63-65 million after taxes are deducted.

How do winners claim the prize?

To claim the jackpot prize, the winner must go to the PCSO head office in Mandaluyong City or a designated PCSO branch office. The winning ticket and valid IDs must be presented.

Winners have one year from the date of the draw to make a claim. If unclaimed after a year, the prize money is forfeited and added to the PCSO’s charity fund.

At the PCSO office, the winner will be required to fill out paperwork and undergo verification and validation processes. This includes submitting the ticket and having it checked against the official draw results.

The winner’s identify is also validated. The PCSO thoroughly vets big winners to ensure there is no fraud or manipulation involved.

Once validated, the winner signs an acknowledgement receipt and indicates their chosen payment option – either lump-sum or annuity.

Lump sum or annuity?

Lotto winners in the Philippines have a choice between receiving the full amount in one lump-sum payment or spreading the payout over 20 years through an annuity.

The lump-sum option gives you the entire amount upfront after taxes are deducted. This allows complete freedom in how you want to spend the money.

The downside is that a big influx of cash all at once can be easily mismanaged. Studies show that people who take lump sums tend to spend it too fast and squander their winnings.

With the annuity, you receive 1/20th of the total prize every year for the next 20 years. This option provides a steady stream of income for decades and prevents overspending the windfall right away.

However, the installment amounts are still taxable every year. The winner also assumes some risk that future annuity payments could be reduced or lost completely if the lottery operator has financial issues.

In the Philippines, around 90% of winners opt for the lump-sum payment according to PCSO. The chance to have so much cash immediately is hard to pass up.

How do most winners spend the money?

There are many examples around the world of lottery winners squandering away massive jackpots within a few years by spending recklessly. However, Lotto winners in the Philippines tend to be a bit more conservative.

Based on accounts of previous winners, some common ways the prize money is spent include:

  • Paying off debts
  • Buying land or a new house
  • Starting a business
  • Investing in savings accounts or instruments
  • Paying for education costs of family members
  • Donating to charity
  • Taking a nice vacation

Winners will make some expensive purchases like cars or jewelry, but for the most part try to avoid going overboard on luxury spending. Filipino culture tends to discourage public displays of new wealth.

Family and helping out relatives is also a common priority for winners in the Philippines. The prize money allows them to provide for the needs of family members like housing, education, healthcare, or starting a small business.

Problems and issues faced by winners

Despite being able to improve their life circumstances, Lotto winners can still face some downsides and challenges after hitting the jackpot.

Family and relationship problems

The money can put strain on personal relationships with family or friends. This includes:

  • Fights over how to divide or share the money
  • Distant relatives and friends asking for handouts
  • Feelings of distrust or envy from others over the fortune
  • Guilt over sudden financial disparity between the winner and their loved ones
  • Greater risks of fraud, manipulation, or abuse from family/friends
  • Increased material expectations placed on the winner

Navigating these relationship changes and expectations can be difficult. Saying “no” to requests for money is hard even if giving it away would be unwise. Winners have to be careful of people who may try to take advantage of their windfall.

Security concerns

Publicly winning such a huge amount of money can make someone a target for criminals. There are concerns over kidnapping, robbery, blackmail, or extortion.

Maintaining anonymity helps avoid security risks. However, Lotto winners in the Philippines are required to show up in person and provide ID for verification. Their name and photo are published, making it impossible to stay anonymous.

Winners need to invest in security measures like bodyguards, surveillance systems, and safehouses to protect themselves and their family.

Increased requests for donations

There is pressure to donate money after becoming suddenly rich. The public, charities, and even local government units will solicit donations for various causes – healthcare, education, infrastructure, religion, etc.

Saying no can cause resentment even if the winner has valid reasons not to give. But excessive donations can also enable dependency or make a dent in the prize money if not careful.

Cost of living increases

Day-to-day costs tend to increase with a luxury lifestyle. There may be charges for bodyguards, maids, drivers and other domestic helpers. Nice homes, cars, vacations, and jewelry all add up.

Taxes also take out a chunk of prize money that could otherwise have earned investment income. It is easy for expenses to balloon if winners are not diligent in tracking their spending.

Scams and exploitation

Lotto winners attract all sorts of shady characters looking to exploit them. Some examples include:

  • Investment scams promising ridiculous returns
  • Lawyers, accountants, advisors giving poor financial advice for a fee
  • Predatory lending practices with exorbitant interest rates
  • Long-lost “relatives” asking for money
  • Threats of violence or blackmail

Unfortunately, when others know you have money, scandals come out of the woodwork trying to take advantage. Winners need to be extremely careful in who they trust and work with.

Stories of Lotto winners

Looking at how previous winners actually spent their prize money can provide some useful examples of what to do (and what not to do) after receiving a jackpot.

Rolando Lavarro

Rolando Lavarro won a Php 741 million Grand Lotto jackpot in 2016, the largest in Philippine history at the time. After paying taxes, he received around Php 480 million.

Lavarro was an IT staff member at the Asian Development Bank before winning the Lotto. He opted to take the lump sum payout.

He reportedly spent his winnings on helping relatives, paid off his parent’s debts, went on a vacation to Japan, donated Php 1 million to his church, and put the rest of the money into savings and investments.

Lavarro continued going to work for some time before eventually resigning. He has kept a relatively low profile lifestyle despite his massive windfall.

“Mommy Sha”

An office nurse known publicly as “Mommy Sha” won Php 458 million in October 2018 from the Grand Lotto 6/55 game.

She received around Php 300 million after taxes on her lump sum payout. Mommy Sha immediately quit her job after winning and bought a new house and car.

She donated portions of her winnings to charity and to help relatives in need. She also plans to continue working as a nurse and use some of the money to open a wellness clinic.

In interviews, Mommy Sha said she will live comfortably but not extravagantly. She has continued to maintain a middle-class lifestyle despite having hundreds of millions in the bank.

Chito Maniago

Chito Maniago was the winner of the Php 141 Million Grand Lotto 6/55 jackpot in November 2016.

He claimed his lump sum of around Php 100 million while working two jobs as a call center agent and Uber driver.

Maniago said he planned to keep working his regular jobs even after winning. He used the money to pay off debts, fix his parents’ house, start a business, and donate to his church.

In his public statements, Maniago emphasized using the money wisely and not being ostentatious with the windfall. He is an example of a winner staying disciplined and responsible after claiming the big prize.

Unlucky winners

Some winners strike it rich only to end up losing their fortune because of poor money management, scams, or other misfortunes.

One example was a man named Romualdo Cagadas who won Php 46.9 million in 2000 but reportedly squandered almost all the money away through lavish spending. He ended up deeply in debt within just a few years of winning.

Other winners fell victim to investment scams and lost millions. There are also sad cases of winners being murdered by relatives or acquaintances due to disputes over sharing the prize.

While winning the Lotto is a dream for many, stories like these show that it can quickly turn into a nightmare if winners are not responsible or get caught up with the wrong people.

Name Year Won Jackpot Amount How They Spent the Money
Rolando Lavarro 2016 Php 741 million Savings, investments, helped relatives, donations
“Mommy Sha” 2018 Php 458 million New house, car, wellness clinic, donations
Chito Maniago 2016 Php 141 million Debt payments, business, donations

Things winners should do

To properly handle a huge lottery windfall, there are some important steps winners should take:

Remain anonymous if possible

Avoid public attention to minimize security risks and begging requests. Sadly this is not an option for Lotto winners in the Philippines.

Work with reputable financial experts

Hire experienced accountants, investment advisors, and lawyers you can trust to help manage the money.

Pay off debts

Eliminate any loans, bills, or other financial obligations.

Make conservative investments

Put a large portion of the money into safe, stable investment funds or instruments, not risky ventures.

Save and budget

Don’t go overboard on extravagant spending. Create a budget and be disciplined in sticking to it.

Help family and charity judiciously

Provide reasonable support to family/friends in need but don’t enable dependencies. Research charitable causes before donating large sums.

Maintain a simple lifestyle

Keep living like you did before winning as much as possible. Sudden luxury living can be damaging in the long run.

Create trusts and corporations

Set up legal structures to help manage the money and minimize taxes.


Winning the lottery in the Philippines can be a real blessing if handled properly. With hundreds of millions in instant cash, winners have the chance to vastly improve their life and the lives of their loved ones.

However, winners need to be cautious and responsible. Avoid recklessly spending the money, being exploited by scammers, and damaging close relationships. Seek reliable professional advice on managing the windfall through investments, budgeting, trusts, and charitable giving.

By keeping grounded and not letting the money drastically change their values and lifestyle, Lotto winners have a greater chance at living happily ever after.