For weeks, Dipak Patel and his wife, Hetal, owners of the Pinebuff Mini Mart reminded their customers to check their lottery tickets because the store had sold a winning Carolina Cash 5 ticket worth $236,455 in March.
If only Ed Studebaker had listened.
Studebaker, a West End resident who works as a manufacturing engineer in Pinebluff and is a regular customer at the Mini Mart, had the winning lottery ticket. He just didn't know it.
The ticket sat in his home for nearly two months before he realized he'd won.
"The clerk at the store kept saying that someone had won a Cash 5 jackpot and that I should check my tickets," Studebaker said in a release from the North Carolina Education Lottery. "I finally asked my daughter to check my tickets for me on Sunday. She called me at work the next day and told me I had won.
"I thought she was messing with me, but my wife confirmed it."
Studebaker, a regular Carolina Cash 5 player, filled out his winning ticket with the birthdays of his family members. He matched all five numbers, 1, 3, 4, 25, 27.
Studebaker received a check worth $160,790 after state and federal taxes were withheld. He said he plans to use a portion of his winnings to purchase a fuel efficient car, take a cruise and pay bills.
"I'm so happy," Studebaker said as he received his winnings. "I have the money in hand. It's starting to sink in. It's real."
Dipak Patel said Studebaker was back in the store last week on behalf of his co-workers. They wanted to test his luck with the big Powerball jackpot, but lightning didn't strike twice.
"I expect they will be back to buy more tickets," Patel said Friday morning.
The Patels have owned the Mini Mart on Walnut Street in Pinebluff for 13 years. Studebaker's winning ticket was the largest winning amount sold by the store, Patel said. In 2009 the store sold a winning Power Ball ticket worth $10,000.
Dipak Patel said selling a winning ticket is a good boost for business.
"It's a good advertisement for our store," Patel said.