RALEIGH – On Saturday, while on a weekly grocery shopping trip, Heather Richardson of Kernersville decided to try her luck on the new Holiday Countdown ticket and scored the first $1 million top prize.
“I went through every emotion,” said Richardson. “A happy, crying, shaking phase—I went through it all.”
Richardson, an university admissions officer, purchased her winning $20 ticket from the Walmart on Beesons Field Drive in Kernersville.
“I didn’t believe it at first,” said Richardson. “It was the fourth block I scratched off and it was two little reindeer and then I saw a “1” and I was like, ‘Oh, maybe I won $100!’ and then it had the letters ‘MIL’.”
Still in shock, Richardson had her husband use his NC Lottery Official Mobile App to scan the ticket to make sure it was a winner. “I had him scan it at least five more times!” she recalled.
Richardson claimed her prize Monday at lottery headquarters in Raleigh. She had the choice of taking the $1 million as an annuity of 20 payments of $50,000 a year or a lump sum of $600,000. Richardson chose the lump sum and, after required state and federal tax withholdings, took home $424,506.
The couple plans to use their winnings to pay off bills, start a business together, and invest the rest. Richardson also plans to customize her 2007 Jeep Wrangler. “It’s gonna get all kinds of good stuff going on,” she said.
Holiday Countdown launched this month with three top prizes of $1 million and two prizes of $100,000. Two top prizes and two $100,000 prizes remain to be won.
Ticket sales from scratch-offs make it possible for the lottery to raise more than $725 million per year for education. For details on how lottery funds have helped all of North Carolina’s 100 counties, click on the “Impact” section of the lottery’s website.