RALEIGH – Tommy Sipka of Laurinburg says he always knew he would win a big prize playing a scratch-off game. On Tuesday, his prediction came true when he scratched off the top prize in the $100,000 Crossword game.

Sipka, who is retired, scratched off his winning ticket at home Tuesday night after buying it earlier in the day at the Dobbs Place gas station on West 5th Street in Lumberton. He said he plans to give a portion of his winnings to some churches, and he’ll save the rest for his retirement.

Sipka said he likes that the proceeds from lottery games go to a good cause. “That’s one reason I don’t mind spending money on lottery tickets,” Sipka said. “I know it’s going back to education.”

Sipka received a check for $68,001 after state and federal taxes were withheld. He is the third player to win the game’s top prize. As of Thursday afternoon, two top prizes and many other prizes remain unclaimed in the game.

Ticket sales have enabled the North Carolina Education Lottery to raise more than $2.6 billion for education initiatives statewide. Since the lottery began through June 30, 2012, Scotland County education programs received more than $12.9 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.