"To almost losing my life to true blessings."
By Kate Northrop
TIMBERLAKE, N.C. — After winning a grueling seven-week battle with COVID-19, a different sort of win came about in the form of a $1 million lottery prize for one lucky lottery player.
Donalise Stewart of Timberlake said that beating COVID-19 felt like a big enough blessing. One year later, he's holding a commemorative check for $1 million dollars in what he calls a "dream come true."
"To think about it, one year ago I was in the hospital with COVID-19," Stewart recalled. "I was in the hospital for seven weeks. Now, a year later, here I am. To almost losing my life to true blessings."
On Wednesday, the grandfather of six was on his way home from work when he stopped at Timberlake Mart on Durham Road in Timberlake. That night, Stewart said it was "fate" that made him pick out a $10 "Platinum 7's" scratch-off ticket.
"I don't know what made me stop," the warehouse worker told the North Carolina Lottery. "I was feeling a bit down, thinking about 1-2-2-4 because my grandmother passed on December 24, so I decided to play them. I was about to walk out the door when someone stopped me and asked if I was going to buy scratch-offs. Next thing I know, I am on my knees — just overwhelmed."
Stewart entered the store that evening feeling gloomy. 15 minutes later, he left the building "jumping for joy" with a winning lottery ticket worth $1 million in his hand.
"I always wondered how I would react if I won," the lucky winner admitted. "Nothing prepares you for that feeling. I did not expect that. All I can say is that dreams do come true."
He visited Lottery headquarters in Raleigh on Thursday to collect his prize and chose to take it as a lump sum over the annuity option that would grant him $50,000 a year over 20 years. After taxes, he went home $424,503 richer.
"This will come in handy," he remarked when asked about his plans for the winnings. "COVID-19 messed me up. This will help take the pressure off with medical bills. We'll save and invest some, maybe buy some land."
Now that Stewart collected his prize, there are two top prizes of $1 million left to claim in "Platinum 7's" out of the seven originally available at the game's launch in May. There are also five out of 14 second-tier prizes of $50,000 and nine out of 28 third-tier prizes of $5,000 remaining in the game.
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