‘My life changed overnight’

Mar. 21, 2014 @ 05:00 AM

A $20 lottery ticket turned out to be a fateful purchase for a Sanford woman, who is now a $1 million winner.

Vickie Richmond, a quality control officer, said she plans to use the $1 million she won playing $120 Million Cash to pay off her house and take a vacation.

“Words can’t describe what I’m feeling,” Richmond said in a prepared statement provided by the North Carolina Education Lottery. “My life changed overnight.”

Richmond scratched off the ticket on Wednesday night after buying it at the Short Stop on West Main Street in Sanford, and she collected her winnings on Thursday, according to the N.C. Education Lottery.“I almost hit the floor when I saw I had won,” Richmond said in the statement. “I kept looking at it to see if it was really real. I couldn’t sleep because I was afraid it was a dream.”

Winners of $1 million in the game have the option of claiming it in $50,000 payments as a 20-year annuity or a one-time lump sum of $600,000. Richmond chose the cash option and, after state and federal taxes were withheld, received a check for $415,206.

“I like playing the lottery because it’s for a good cause,” Richmond said in the statement. “The kids really need the money for their education. I don’t feel bad if I don’t win because I know it’s helping the kids.”

$120 Million Cash is a started Oct. 1, 2013 with four top prizes of $3 million and 6 prizes of $1 million. Richmond is the third player to beat odds of 1 in 1.3 million to win $1 million playing the game. Two more top prizes of $3 million and three $1 million prizes remain unclaimed.

“The odds are great [to overcome],” said Ryan Kennemur, public information officer with the North Carolina Education Lottery, “but we have big winners like this all the time.” Just recently, he added, “We’ve had seven winners of $100,000 or more.”

Audrey Wicker, a clerk at the Short Stop, said the store sells a good amount of lottery tickets, but this is the biggest winner she’s aware of.

“Actually, I was very happy; it made me cry,” Wicker said.

Wicker saw the lucky slip in person, she said, and “It did feel real, touching the ticket. It just made you shake to be holding that.”

Ticket sales have allowed the lottery to raise more than $3.19 billion for education programs statewide. For details on how more than $20.6 million in lottery funds have been applied in Lee County, click on the “Where the Money Goes” tab on the lottery’s website, www.nc-educationlottery.org.