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GASTON COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Joshua Helton, of Gastonia, picked up a Spectacular Riches scratch-off on his way to work and won the first $1 million prize of the game, according to an NC Education Lottery news release.

“It was kind of a great morning,” Helton said when claiming his prize. “I always hoped to win something big, but I never thought I would hit a million dollars.”  

The father of two had made a routine stop for gas and coffee at the QSC Foodmart on McAdenville Road in Lowell.

While there, he traded in his winning ticket for two more. When those were not winners, he tried his luck one more time and got a surprise.

“I walked back out there and pumped my gas, got back in my truck and scratched it off,” Helton said. “I didn’t really know what to do at the time, so I just called my wife and woke her up, told her what was going on.”   

Helton then went home to share the good news with his wife and then continued his journey to work with his winning ticket stowed safely in his car dashboard under lock and key.  

He claimed his prize Friday at lottery headquarters in Raleigh.

He had the option of taking the $1 million prize as an annuity of $50,000 a year over 20 years or a lump sum of $600,000.

He chose the lump sum of $600,000. After required federal and state tax withholdings, he took home $424,507.  

“I’m going to pay off some bills and put some money back for my kids,” Helton said. “That way they’ll have something when they get a little older.”