RALEIGH – A $150,000 prize was just in time for a Robeson County couple to celebrate their 42nd wedding anniversary.

Gerald Strickland of Pembroke had the Powerball jackpot on his mind, so he stopped Friday night at Adam’s Mini Mart on Prospect Road in Pembroke to get a ticket. There, he also bought two Mega Money Multiplier scratch-off tickets for $5 each. Strickland scratched the first ticket and matched one of his winning numbers, 38, in the play area. To his disbelief, the corresponding prize was $150,000.

“I was trying to win the Powerball jackpot,” he said. “I won this instead.”

Strickland is the first winner of the top prize in the Mega Money Multiplier game which started on April 16. He shared the good news with his wife, Brenda.

“I really didn’t believe him,” she said. “He showed me how he matched this number with the winning number. I said I’d believe it when we got the money.”

So, on Monday morning, the Stricklands came to lottery headquarters to claim the prize money. As luck would have it, they are celebrating their anniversary this week.

“Wednesday will be 42 years,” Gerald said. “We planned to go to the beach anyway, so it came at a good time.” He added that a portion of the $102,001 after-tax winnings would be used to make home improvements.

The Stricklands, who have lived all their lives in Pembroke, are retired. These days they enjoy spending time with their two adult children and five grandchildren. Gerald worked for the Robeson County Health Department until 2008 and Brenda taught for Robeson County schools until 2000.

Teachers’ salaries are one of the initiatives that lottery funds support. By law, lottery dollars also pay for school construction, prekindergarten for at-risk four-year-olds, and college scholarships and financial aid based on need. Since the lottery began through June 30, 2012, Robeson County education programs have received more than $46.9 million in lottery funds.

To date, the lottery has raised more than $2.8 billion in support of these programs statewide.