RALEIGH – A Mint Hill man is the first player to win one of four $1 million prizes playing the Ruby Red 7’s instant game. Michael Powe heard the game was new, so he stopped at the Tobacco Road Outlet on N.C. 24/27 East in Albemarle to get a ticket.

“I’m a very rare ticket buyer,” Powe explained. “I’m conservative. I had $10 left over after I filled up the gas tank.”

Sitting in his car outside the store, he scratched the $10 ticket and saw the $1 million top prize. He called his wife to share the good news.

“I said, ‘Are you sitting down?’” Powe recalled. “She didn’t believe me until she actually saw the ticket.”

Powe works as an installation and support engineer for a company that installs high-tech medical equipment. His plans for the prize money included giving to worthy causes and travelling to go on a hunting expedition in Alaska or somewhere in Africa.

Top prize winners in the Ruby Red 7’s game have the option of claiming their prize as an annuity paid out over 20 years, or as a one-time lump sum payment. Powe chose the $600,000 lump sum prize, worth $408,003 after taxes. As of Feb. 11, three top prizes of $1 million – and many other prizes – remain to be claimed in the game.

Ticket sales for games such as Ruby Red 7’s have enabled the lottery to raise more than $2.6 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.