GASTONIA, N.C. (News Release) — Joshua Helton of Gastonia picked up a Spectacular Riches scratch-off on his way to work and won the first $1 million prize of the game.
“It was kind of a great morning!” laughed Helton when claiming his prize. “I always hoped to win something big but I never thought I would hit a million dollars.”
The father of two had made a routine stop for gas and coffee at the QSC Foodmart on McAdenville Road in Lowell. While there, he traded in his winning ticket for two more. When those were not winners, he tried his luck one more time and had a ‘spectacular’ surprise.
“I walked back out there and pumped my gas, got back in my truck and scratched it off,” said Helton. “I didn’t really know what to do at the time so I just called my wife and woke her up, told her what was going on.”
Helton immediately went home to share the good news with his wife and then continued his journey to work – his winning ticket stowed safely in his car dashboard under lock and key.
Helton claimed his prize Friday at lottery headquarters in Raleigh. He had the option of taking the $1 million prize as an annuity of $50,000 a year over 20 years, or a lump sum of $600,000. He chose the lump sum of $600,000. After required federal and state tax withholdings, he took home $424,507.
“I’m going to pay off some bills and put some money back for my kids,” said Helton. “That way they’ll have something when they get a little older.”
Spectacular Riches is a $25 game that launched in October with eight top prizes of $1 million and 20 $100,000 prizes. Seven of the $1 million prizes and 18 of the $100,000 prizes remain to be claimed.
Ticket sales from scratch-offs make it possible for the lottery to raise more than $900 million a year for education. For details on how $13.4 million raised by the lottery made a difference in Gaston County in 2020, visit www.nclottery.com and click on the “Impact” section.