RALEIGH – Lexington resident Ronnie Cromer, a machine operator at a manufacturing plant, said that he plans to pay off his parents’ mortgage after scratching off the top prize on his $2,500 a Week for Life ticket.

Cromer and his mother learned of their big win sitting in the car outside the Pop Shoppe, on Main Street in Lexington, where he purchased the $5 ticket.

“My mom actually scratched the ticket,” Cromer said. “I know everyone must have thought I was crazy because I started dancing right there in the parking lot.”

Cromer is the first player to claim a top prize in a series of four instant games offering the chance to win as much as $5,000 a week for life. The tickets, which went on sale Aug. 28, are available for $1, $2, $5, and $10 per play. A top prize is structured in annual payments that continue for a winner’s entire life. The guaranteed value of the prize is at least 20 years of payments to a winner or his designated estate. Top prize winners can also choose to claim their winnings as a lump sum with a cash value equal to the guaranteed prize amount.

Cromer, 52, chose the lump sum option, which amounted to $1,202,241 after state and federal taxes. He plans to use a portion of his winnings to help his family, pay bills and donate to his church.

“I said just the other day that one day I’d like to win the lottery so I can help everyone I love have better days,” Cromer said. “It hasn’t sunk in yet, but this has been a really, really good day.”

Since the lottery began through June 30, 2011, Davidson County education programs received more than $29.4 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 college scholarships and financial aid based on need.

To date, the N.C. Education Lottery has raised more than $2.45 billion for these initiatives statewide.