RALEIGH – James Foard Jr., a lifelong furniture maker from Statesville, is the winner of the top prize in the $120 Million Cash game, claiming a prize that will pay out $150,000 a year for 20 years until it equals $3 million.

"I've worked hard all my life," said Foard, 52. "I added it up - everything I've made since I started working - and this is more than that."

Foard, who said he plays the lottery about once a week, bought his lucky $20 ticket at the Fast Express on Hickory Highway in Statesville. That's where Alice Garland, executive director of the N.C. Education Lottery, presented Foard with a big check Friday morning.

“We are so happy to celebrate Mr. Foard's $3 million win here today,” Garland said. “We appreciate all our players and retailers across the state who make amazing things like this possible.”

Winners of $3 million in the game have the option to claim a lump sum cash payment of $1.8 million. Foard chose instead to receive annual payments of $150,000 for 20 years. He already received his first check, worth $103,806 after taxes.

A native of the Statesville area, Foard has built and upholstered furniture since he was 16 years old. He said winning the lottery means he can continue doing what he loves at Revive Furniture in Hickory - with all his bills paid off.

"I'll work now until I'm 62, take retirement early and then take it one day at a time," Foard said. "It's a blessing. It's a dream come true."

The $120 Million Cash game started Oct. 1, 2013 with four top prizes of $3 million. With Foard's claim, one $3 million top prize remains to be claimed. Additionally, three $1 million prizes, three $100,000 prizes and many other prizes are still in the game.

Ticket sales enable the lottery to raise money for education programs, totaling more than $3.3 billion statewide. Net proceeds are used for prekindergarten programs for at-risk four-year-olds, teachers’ salaries in grades K-3, school construction, digital learning, and need-based college scholarships and financial aid.

For details on how more than $44.3 million in lottery funds make a difference in Iredell County, click on the “Where the Money Goes” tab on the lottery’s website.