RALEIGH – Jim Shimburski of Fort Mill, S.C. usually stops for pizza on his way to watch high school football on Friday nights. Last Friday, he stopped for gas and a lottery ticket instead. The change in his routine led to the athletic trainer scoring $100,000 instantly.

Shimburski won playing a $120 Million Cash ticket he purchased at the Ballantyne Amoco on the Ballantyne Commons Parkway. As he bought gas, he decided to try a new scratch-off ticket.

“I knew the $120 million game had just come out,” Shimburski recalled. “I said, ‘Let’s give this a shot and see what happens.’”

On what turned out to be his lucky ticket – and his lucky day – Shimburski scratched off a “coin” symbol. He learned from the game instructions that meant he had won a prize instantly. But he didn’t know how much.

“You think, ‘Maybe I’ll win $20 or $100,’” Shimburski said. That’s when he scratched and revealed the prize amount: $100,000.

“It was just that surreal feeling,” he said. “It was pretty wild.”

Shimburski, who owns a sports training and conditioning business, plans to invest a portion of his $68,006 in after tax-winnings and purchase a new car.

“It isn’t going to make me rich,” he said. “But it’s going to make life a little easier right now.”

Shimburski is the first player to win $100,000 in the $120 Million Cash game. It started Oct. 1 with four top prizes of $3 million, six prizes of $1 million, and six prizes of $100,000. On Wednesday, Fayetteville resident Martin Hughes claimed the game’s first $3 million prize.

Ticket sales make it possible for the N.C. Education Lottery to raise money for education programs in all 100 counties. Details about how more than $210.9 million in lottery funds have made a difference in Mecklenburg County are available on the “Where the Money Goes” page on the lottery’s website.