Howard Diaz, a real estate broker from Southport, said he just had a hunch that his 60th year would be a lucky one. And that hunch came true New Year’s Day when he won a $100,000 prize in one of the N.C. Education Lottery’s instant games.

“I’ve been playing the lottery for a long time,” Diaz said Friday as he collected his winnings at lottery headquarters in Raleigh. “And I had a feeling that after I turned 60, I would get lucky. I turned 60 in October.”

Diaz won one of six $100,000 prizes in the $120 Million Cash game, which started in October. Four of the $100,000 prizes remain to be claimed. He bought his lucky ticket at Kopps Kwik Stop 2 on George II Highway in Southport.

The game also started with four top prizes of $3 million and six $1 million prizes. As of Friday, three of the $3 million prizes remain to be claimed and four of the $1,000,000 prizes remain.

After state and federal taxes were withheld, Diaz received $69,206. He said he planned to use the money to finish home improvement projects, to buy a used truck and a used minivan for himself and his wife, and to share with his family of four kids and nine grandchildren.

As of September 2013, the lottery has raised more than $3 billion to support education programs. Lottery dollars support teachers’ salaries in grades K-3, school construction and repair projects, prekindergarten programs for at-risk four-year-olds, need-based college scholarships and financial aid and digital learning initiatives.

To see how more than $23.9 million in lottery dollars have made a difference in Brunswick County, go to the Where the Money Goes webpage at