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N.C. Lottery pays first big prizes

Apr 3, 2006, 7:33 am

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North Carolina Lottery

North Carolinians spend the equivalent of $1.50 per resident on first day and a half

Lottery players maintained a brisk, and somewhat unexpected, spending pace Friday as the games' first big winners came forward to collect jackpot prizes.

Officials were predicting a drop-off Friday from Thursday's steady sales as North Carolina joined 41 other states in sponsoring a lottery. But at 5:30 p.m. Friday — a payday for some — officials said players were spending at a clip close to the first day's pace.

Friday sales had topped $4.6 million by 5:30 p.m.

In all, the lottery sold more than $12.6 million in tickets in its first day and a half. That is about $1.50 for every person in the state. Profits will go to education programs statewide. Players collected $4.3 million in prizes.

"I'm real pleased with it all," said lottery director Tom Shaheen on Friday afternoon. "There have been a few glitches, but overall, it's been relatively smooth."

The lottery also paid its first big winners Friday from the four $1, $2 and $5 games now on shelves.

A Newton man claimed one of 10 prizes in the state worth $100,000, a ticket purchased in Conover, which is in Catawba County about 150 miles west of Raleigh.

After taxes, Richard Garland collected $68,001. He told lottery officials that he would buy a house with the money.

In Fayetteville, a Fort Bragg soldier bought a Carolina Cash ticket worth $10,000, before taxes, late Thursday.

Sgt. James Greene said he couldn't believe it when he scratched off the winning ticket while still in the BP store and then "saw 10 grand staring at me."

Married for six months, he said the money will pay off bills, buy a video game machine and get whatever his wife wants.

Another $10,000 winner was paid in Charlotte. And a $5,000 ticket was sold in Candler, in Buncombe County, to a man who said he would use the money to buy a drag race car. Another $5,000 winner was paid in Asheville later Friday.

Thousands of losing tickets are sold for each winner; to pay off Garland's $100,000 ticket, about 39,450 losing tickets will be sold.

Overall, about half of the money from sales is returned to players as prizes.

The lottery's closely watched first-day sales ended up at $8 million. That quadrupled early predictions.

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