May 25, 2020

NC man plays lottery online ‘on a whim’ during coronavirus pandemic

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A North Carolina man bought online lottery tickets "on a whim” during the coronavirus pandemic — then woke up to a big surprise, officials say.

Tony Rawls was still groggy when he "received a notification he’ll never forget.” It was the results of the April 3 prize drawing, the N.C. Education Lottery said Monday in a news release and on Twitter.

"Of course, it’s 4 o’clock in the morning and you’re not wide awake, and I woke up my wife and I said, ‘Come here and look and see if you’re seeing the same thing I’m seeing,’” Rawls told lottery officials.

That’s when she also got a glimpse of the message that said they won a $375,990 jackpot prize, according to the news release.

"It’s life-altering,” Rawls said in the release. "It puts a different perspective on our retirement plan.”

Officials say the couple’s good fortune started when Rawls decided to play the lottery from his home office computer. He is from Colerain, which is in Bertie County and roughly 130 miles northeast of Raleigh.

Online games had been around before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the lottery made adjustments due to the statewide stay-at-home order. Now, players who win more than $100,000 aren’t required to pick up their prizes at claim centers, according to officials.After taxes, Rawls and his wife, Jolene Morris, got $266,027, the lottery said in its news release. But they won’t stop trying their luck for now.

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