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Past lottery winners advise newest ones

Photo of Costco wholesale in Melville on the

Photo of Costco wholesale in Melville on the afternoon of June 2, 2011, where twenty employees won the lottery. Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Janet Alnwick of Merrick, who won $22 million in a lottery in 2009, has some free advice for the newest Powerball millionaires.

"Keep the people in your life that you had before you won the money," Alnwick, 55, said. "Be a bit leery of people coming into your life. There are opportunists all over."

She said she been inundated with mailed and emailed solicitations since winning her jackpot.

She rejected many of them without opening, but keeps others to read later. "I do give to my charities," she added. "I give quite a bit to my charities: Doctors Without Borders, Smile Train, the Holocaust Memorial."

Sudden riches can be life-changing, but "I didn't change," she said. "I still live in Merrick. I still have the same phone number."

And one last bit of advice from Alnwick: "Get yourself a good financial planner."

Margie Lynn Barres, 47, of Glen Head, who won $55 million in 2005, seconded the need for sound financial advice.

"Be careful where you invest your money. Be very careful with that," she said. "People appear to be your best friend when they want you to invest. As tempting as it might be to jump into things, as I did, sit back take it slow. Do your research. Don't take anyone's word for anything. Anything you purchase, keep it slow."

Like Alnwick, she thought the newfound wealth had not changed her, but it had changed others.

"I'm the same exact person, but my view on people has changed. I'm not as optimistic," she said. "You have your core people who do not change. And then the strangers -- if they know you have won Lotto, you get looked at in a different way. You get charged more."

"I have an autistic son, and in that way the money was fantastic. It opened a lot of doors, but all the money in the world did not fix my son," she said. "That keeps me grounded."

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