RALEIGH – Rickey Earnhardt of Charlotte plans to pay bills and save for the future after winning $1 million playing Powerball. His Quick Pick ticket matched all five white balls but not the Powerball in the July 27 drawing, beating odds of 1 in 5.1 million.

He learned of his big win on Wednesday afternoon while shopping at the Circle K on Albemarle Road in Charlotte, where he made his lucky purchase.

“The clerk said someone in the store had won,” Earnhardt said. “I went straight home and checked my tickets. I couldn’t believe it then and I still can’t now. I couldn’t sleep. It felt like Santa was coming.”

Earnhardt collected a check for $680,000, after state and federal taxes were withheld.

“This feels fantastic,” Earnhardt said as he held his check for the first time. “I’m very happy. This could not have come at a better time.”

Saturday’s Powerball jackpot is an estimated $290 million if taken as an annuity or $168.4 million if taken as a lump sum.

Ticket sales for games such as Powerball have enabled the lottery to raise more than $2.9 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.