Includes video report
RALEIGH, N.C. — Julia Earp of Wilmington, North Carolina, is the first player to spin the lottery's Big Spin prize wheel and win $350,000, according to the NC Education Lottery.
She spun the wheel Tuesday during a live event in Raleigh.
"I figured no matter what I won, I'd be tickled with what I got," Earp said. "I came out with more than I had when I came in, so this is amazing!"
The grandmother of eight said she's a big game show fan and developed a strategy of how to spin the wheel.
"My plan was to spin the wheel so hard that I'd fall on my heinie," Earp said with a laugh.
Earp's good luck started well before she entered the TV studio. It started when she stopped on her way to work at the Circle K on Oleander Drive in Wilmington and bought The Big Spin scratch-off ticket. When she realized she had the chance to win half a million dollars, she couldn't believe it.
"Whenever I thought about the fact that I won, I'd say, 'Thank you Jesus!'" said Earp, who cares for the elderly. "I'm still saying it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!"
After required state and federal tax withholdings, Earp took home $247,518. She plans to use the money to take care of her grandchildren including paying for their schooling.
The Big Spin scratch-off ticket launched earlier in October.
The $5 game has three levels of play. Players can win a cash prize instantly or get directed to a website where they can spin a digital wheel and win a cash prize or a Big Spin.
If they win a Big Spin prize, they get the chance to spin the Big Spin prize wheel during a live event and win up to $500,000.
VIDEO: Watch the drawing and interview