RALEIGH – Five of the lucky Powerball numbers that Ann LaFave has played for more than six years came up in the Wednesday, Dec. 26 drawing, winning her a $1 million prize.
LaFave’s lucky numbers consisted of her birthday, a number from her mom’s birthday, the jersey number of an old boyfriend, and a number used in memory of a friend from New York. LaFave, a retired U.S. postmaster from New York who now lives in Huntersville, said she discovered her win while scanning the Powerball numbers printed in her newspaper, The Charlotte Observer.
“I said, ‘Oh, I have some numbers for a change,” LaFave recalled Monday as she collected her prize. “My birthday numbers were there. I saw the fourth number. Then I went to the kitchen to make sure my Powerball ticket was still good, came back and saw I had five numbers. And I started yelling and screaming.”
LaFave said she has played the lottery for much of her life, first in New York and then while living in Tennessee and North Carolina. She said she and other members of her family often play what they call “The Lottery Game”, listing what they would do if they won big.
But with her win, LaFave said she plans to do practical things, including helping her family, buying a new car, and moving to a two-bedroom apartment. She currently shares a one-bedroom apartment with an adult daughter that she cares for. She said one splurge may be getting a Chai Latte.
LaFave received $680,000 after the required withholdings for federal and state taxes. She bought her lucky ticket at the BI-LO on Rose Commons Drive in Huntersville.
A daughter, Jennifer DiPaolo, came with her mother to see her claim the prize and said she was happy her mother could now live more comfortably. “She’s done so much for the family,” DiPaolo said. “She is the most deserving person.”
LaFave became the 17th player in North Carolina to win a $1 million prize while playing Powerball since a new version of the game launched in January 2012. Before the change, players who beat odds of 1 one 5.1 million to match all the numbers on the five white balls won a smaller prize of $200,000. An 18th player won $2 million when his $3 Power Play ticket matched all five white balls in the April 7, 2012 Powerball drawing.
“It’s great to see people who enjoy the lottery like Ms. LaFave win a big prize,” said Alice Garland, executive director of the N.C. Education Lottery. “The improvements made in the Powerball game a year ago not only created more chances for North Carolinians to win big, but they have also boosted our Powerball sales and helped raise more money for education.”
One of the $1 million prizes remains unclaimed. A ticket purchased at Matthew’s Shell on East Independence Boulevard in Matthew matched all five numbers on the white balls in the Sept. 19 Powerball drawing and is worth $1 million. The winning numbers were 1 - 5 - 8 - 39 -50 and the Powerball was 23. Players have 180 days after a drawing to claim a prize. The ticket will expire on March 18th.
Ticket sales for games such as Powerball have enabled the lottery to raise more than $2.58 billion for education initiatives statewide. Since the lottery began through June 30, 2012, Mecklenburg County education programs received more than $210.9 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.