RALEIGH – Maria Juana Tolentino, a resident of Candor in Montgomery County, thought she was finished with her family’s Christmas on Wednesday. Little did she know that a late gift from her brother, a $5 Mega Bucks lottery ticket, would make her $100,000 richer.
Tolentino was sitting in her living room with her family when she realized she’d won the game’s top prize.
“At first I thought it was a hundred dollars,” Tolentino said. “We were happy to win that. Then I kept scratching and saw it was much, much bigger. I couldn’t believe it.”
Tolentino plans to use her winnings, worth $68,001 after taxes were withheld, to make some repairs on her home, share with her children and give some money to her brother. The winning ticket was purchased at the Quik Chek on East Main Street in Biscoe.
As of Friday afternoon, seven top prizes of $100,000 and many other prizes remain unclaimed in the game.
Ticket sales for games such as instant scratch-offs have enabled the lottery to raise more than $2.58 billion for education initiatives statewide. Since the lottery began through June 30, 2012, Montgomery County education programs received more than $8.5 million in lottery funds. By law, those funds pay for teachers’ salaries in grades K-3, school construction, prekindergarten programs for at-risk four-year-olds, and need-based college scholarships and financial aid.