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‘I called my wife and asked her to come get me’: NC restaurant owner wins $10M lottery prize

Howard Smith III (NCEL)

RALEIGH, N.C. — A North Carolina restaurant owner said he’s going to use a $10 million lottery prize to make sure his children can have big dreams for the future.

“When my five-year-old found out I won, he asked if I would buy him a Ferrari,” Howard Smith III said with a laugh. “I’ll buy him a toy one and get him something better. I plan to set up a trust fund for each of my three children to make sure they’re taken care of.”

Smith, of Belmont, bought the winning ticket Tuesday while he was running errands.

“I had two Extreme Millions tickets that I needed to cash in sitting on my dresser,” Smith said. “They had been there for about three months, so I grabbed them and took them with me.”

After his first errand, Smith stopped by Will’s Food Store on South New Hope Road in Gastonia and used his winnings to buy a $10 ticket and another $30 Extreme Millions ticket. When he didn’t win anything on the first, Smith said he threw the Extreme Millions ticket in his truck and forgot about it until several hours later, when he finally scratched the ticket and found out he was a winner.

“I was a little shocked to say the least,” Smith said. “I called my wife and asked her to come get me. I told her, ‘I don’t think I can drive right now.’”

Smith had the option of a $10 million annuity that has 20 payments of $500,000 a year or a lump sum of $6 million. He chose the lump sum and, after required state and federal tax withholdings, took home $4,230,069.

Extreme Millions launched in December 2016 with four $10 million prizes, and 22 $1 million prizes. One top prize and six $1 million prizes remain to be claimed. Players can also enter their tickets for a chance to win $1 million in two more Extreme Millions second-chance drawings.