Christmas came a day early for a retired Aberdeen postal worker.
On Dec. 24, Lee Thomas bought a $10 scratch-off lottery ticket at Quality Mart on Old U.S. 1 in Southern Pines. He wound up winning $1 million.
“I couldn’t think at first,” Thomas recalled in a news release from the North Carolina Education Lottery, the state commission that oversees the games. “I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My wife thought I was having a heart attack when I called because I couldn’t talk.”
Thomas was the second player to claim a $1 million prize through “Win It All,” a scratch-off game that launched last year. The odds of winning one of the game’s top prizes are approximately one in 1.5 million, according to the lottery’s website.
Winners can redeem their loot in annual installments over 20 years or as a one-time payment of $600,000. Thomas went with the lump sum, traveling to the lottery’s headquarters in Raleigh on Monday to collect his winnings.
He netted $424,503 after automatic withholdings for state and federal taxes. Thomas said he plans to use part of the money to buy his wife a new car.
Thomas isn’t the only Moore County resident to hit pay dirt with a scratch-off ticket. Harry Veasey, a retired schoolteacher, won a $1 million prize after buying a $10 scratch-off ticket in August 2018 at Jay’s Food Mart in Aberdeen.