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EC man wins $200K lottery prize

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From staff reports

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

A U.S. Army veteran who bought his winning ticket at an Elizabeth City service station has claimed the fourth and final $200,000 prize in the North Carolina Education Lottery’s Mega Millions/Powerball scratch-off game.

Howard Smack, who served 30 years with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, told state lottery officials on Monday that he recently bought three $5 scratch-off tickets while at the Southgate Shell Station. Smack, who claims he’s “always had good instincts,” was right about buying scratch-off tickets at the Ehringhaus Street business: One of his tickets turned out to be worth $200,000.

“I couldn’t believe it when I won,” he said. “I may have screamed, just a little bit, I was so excited.”

After required state and federal tax withholdings, Smack brought home $141,501. 

Smack, who won both a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star during his Army service, said he plans to save his lottery winnings for the future.

“When you’ve served in the military as long as I have, you always have a short-term and a long-term plan,” he said.

Smack also said the timing of his lottery win couldn’t have been any better.

“Last year was a rough one,” he said. “My father finally got a kidney after being on dialysis for years, so I’ve had to be there for him. This is such a blessing.”

John Campbell, who owns the Southgate Shell Station, said his business previously has sold winning lottery tickets — “but never anything like” Smack’s winning ticket in the Mega Millions/Powerball scratch-off game.

Campbell described Smack as both a regular customer and “a real nice guy.”

“He’s one of those people that is very lucky,” Campbell said. “He’s won a lot of money (playing the lottery) before. He hits it regular. ... But nothing like this.”

Campbell said big lottery wins like Smack’s can “be good for business.”

“People who hear about a big win want to come in and buy more tickets,” he said.

Campbell said he’s seen a recent uptick in lottery ticket sales — but it had nothing to do with Smack’s winning ticket. Most of it was from people buying lottery tickets to give as Christmas gifts, he said.

According to a lottery press release, the North Carolina Education Lottery launched the Mega Millions/Powerball scratch-off game in October, offering four top prizes of $200,000. Since Smack has won the last top prize, the lottery said it plans to discontinue the game.

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