RALEIGH – John Ames of Charlotte has used the series of family birthdays to help him pick his Powerball numbers for years. His persistence paid off on March 1 as his $3 Power Play ticket matched all five white balls but not the red Powerball, winning a $2 million prize.

“I found out I had won on Sunday morning while reading the Charlotte Observer,” said Ames. “I wasn’t wearing my glasses, so the numbers looked fuzzy but awfully familiar. I ran upstairs to get my glasses and to tell my wife. We couldn’t believe it.”

After state and federal taxes were withheld, Ames received a check for $1,384,000. The lucky ticket, which beat odds of 1 in 5.1 million, was sold at the Circle K on Pineville-Matthews Road in Charlotte.

“This looks good,” Ames said as he held his check for the first time. “Now I’m excited.”

Tonight’s estimated Powerball jackpot annuity is $60 million or a one-time lump sum payment of $33.8 million.

As of December 2013, the lottery has raised more than $3.19 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 $254.5 million in lottery dollars have made a difference in Mecklenburg County, go to the Where the Money Goes webpage at http://www.nc-educationlottery.org/beneficiary.aspx.