RALEIGH – A Greenville man says winning a $232,375 Carolina Cash 5 jackpot means he can pay off all his bills, buy a new car, and save for retirement. David Cook celebrated his birthday just three days before winning big in Friday’s drawing.

“I think this is about the best birthday present I ever got,” he said Monday as he collected his winnings at lottery headquarters in Raleigh.

Cook, a pharmaceutical scientist, said he keeps a spreadsheet of the Cash 5 numbers he plays and the winning numbers that are drawn each night. Early Saturday morning he logged on to the lottery’s website to compare his numbers with those drawn the night before. He discovered that his ticket was the only one to match all five numbers, beating odds of 1 in 575,757 to win the jackpot.

“I was pretty calm,” he recalled. “I thought ‘Finally. I finally hit it.’”

Cook said that, before winning the jackpot, he already had a plan for the prize money.

“The first thing I’m going to do is pay off my debts,” he said. “The second thing, I’m going to splurge and buy a new automobile since the one I have is 14 years old.” The third part of the plan, Cook said, is to invest a portion of his winnings. “It’s a good place to start a firm foundation for early retirement,” he said.

Cook purchased his winning ticket, worth $158,015 after taxes, at the Food Lion on Easy Street in Greenville.

A Carolina Cash 5 promotion offers players extra chances to win as much as $50,000. In each of five Cash 5 Bonus Bucks drawings, five prizes are awarded: One $50,000 grand prize, one $5,000 prize, and three $1,000 prizes. Drawings have already been held on Nov. 14 and Jan. 16. The next one is scheduled for March 20, with an entry deadline of March 13. More details on the promotion are available on the lottery’s website.

Ticket sales for games such as Carolina Cash 5 have enabled the lottery to raise more than $2.6 billion for education initiatives statewide. Since the lottery began through June 30, 2012, Pitt County education programs received more than $39.8 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.