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GASTONIA, N.C. — A stop for gas led Christopher Wray, of Maiden, to a lucky penny and the first $250,000 top prize in the new 20X The Cash game, according to an NC education Lottery news release.

“I was actually stopping to get gas,” he recalled. “I went in to go use the facilities. And on the way in, I found a penny, heads up, on the ground. And I was like, ‘Hey! Find a penny, pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck, right?’”

On the way out, the new February scratch-off tickets caught his eye.

“I was like ‘well, I guess now that I have a penny, I have to use it!’” Wray said. “And I thought, ‘well these are new. Let’s grab one of these.’ And the first one, pop. I’m looking at it like, ‘this can’t be right.’”

He claimed his prize Wednesday at lottery headquarters in Raleigh and, after required federal and state tax withholdings, took home $176,876

“I still don’t feel like I really get it,” he said. “It’s surreal.”

Wray bought his winning $5 ticket at the Quik Trip on North Chester Street in Gastonia.