RALEIGH, N.C. — The accidental purchase of two identical Lucky for Life tickets in Saturday's drawing produced not one but two $25,000 a year for life prizes for a very lucky North Carolina man.
"I was just laying in bed watching a basketball game on TV and I couldn't remember if I filled it out or not," said Scotty Thomas, a 49-year-old dump truck operator from Fayetteville. "I went ahead and filled it out again and the next morning my son asked why there were two different amounts listed. I realized, 'I think I filled it out twice.'"
Thomas received two emails because he bought the $2 tickets using the lottery's Online Play program on his smartphone. Winners get an email notification when they win.
"When I realized I won, I had to lay down on the floor because I really just couldn't believe it," Thomas said. "It's just a blessing."
When Thomas arrived at lottery headquarters Monday to collect his winnings, he faced a big decision. At age 49, he could take both prizes as annuities, receiving a total of $50,000 every year for the rest of his life. He could take one prize as an annuity — $25,000 a year for life — and the second as a lump sum of $390,000. Or, he could take both as lump-sum prizes of $390,000 each.
Thomas said he decided to take both prizes as lump-sum payments, $780,000 total, because he wants to invest in his business, pay off some bills, help out his family and possibly buy a house. After required federal and state tax withholdings, he took home $551,851.
Lucky for Life has a top prize of $1,000 a day for life. The second-biggest prize, $25,000 a year for life, is the prize that Thomas took home. Drawings are now held daily.
Lucky for Life is one of four lottery games in North Carolina where players have the option of buying their tickets through Online Play either through the lottery's website or with the NC Lottery Official Mobile App.
Ticket sales from games such as Lucky for Life make it possible for the lottery to raise more than $900 million a year for education.