RALEIGH – Joe and Toni Thomas moved to Wilson ten years ago to enjoy retirement together. After Joe scratched off a $150,000 instant prize Saturday morning, the couple says they will relish retirement even more.
“I’m still pinching myself,” Toni said as the couple collected their winnings Monday at lottery headquarters.
Joe said he visits the lottery’s website regularly to see how many top prizes are still unclaimed for various games. That’s why he recently tried playing Green & Gold, which started Feb. 4. He won $10 and $5 prizes and decided to try his luck again to see if he could win more.
He found out he won a lot more, as he sat watching television, and scratched his lucky ticket. One of the winning numbers was a five and one of his numbers was a five as well, winning the corresponding prize of $150,000.
“When I first looked at it, I saw all those zeroes,” Joe recalled. He showed his wife.
“You see that five up top?” Joe asked her, pointing to one of the winning numbers. “And that five at the bottom?”
“We won $150,000?” Toni shouted. “Oh my God!”
Up until that moment, Toni had been feeling under the weather recovering from a cold.
“It got me right out of my sick bed,” she said.
The Thomases said that their after-tax winnings of $103,801 would allow them to pay off a new car they just bought as well as a trip to Cancun they already have planned. Toni said that Joe, who likes to visit Morehead City to go fishing, may get to do that more often, too.
Joe purchased the winning ticket at Sam’s Convenient and Grill on N.C. 264 Alternate in Sims.
With the Thomas’ win, two more $150,000 top prizes – and many other prizes – remain to be claimed in the Green & Gold game.
Ticket sales have made it possible for the lottery to raise more than $3.19 billion for education programs statewide. For details on how more than $22.9 million in lottery funds have made a difference in Wilson County, click on the “Where the Money Goes” tab on the lottery’s website.