PERSON COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Donalise Stewart, of Timberlake, said winning his seven-week battle with COVID-19 felt like a big enough blessing but winning a $1 million lottery prize a year later became a “dream come true,” according to an NC Education Lottery news release.
“One year ago I was in the hospital with COVID-19,” said Stewart, a grandfather of six. “I was in the hospital for seven weeks. Now, a year later, here I am. To almost losing my life to true blessings.”
Stewart, on his way home from work on Wednesday, decided to stop at the Timberlake Mart on Durham Road in Timberlake and bought one $10 Platinum 7s scratch-off.
Stewart claims “fate” intervened that night.
“I don’t know what made me stop,” he said. “I was feeling a bit down, thinking about 1-2-2-4 because my grandmother passed on Dec. 24, so I decided to play them. I was about to walk out the door when someone stopped me and asked if I was going to buy scratch-offs. Next thing I know, I am on my knees…overwhelmed.”
Stewart said he left the store 15 minutes later “jumping for joy” with a $1 million prize in tow.
“I always wondered how I would react if I won,” Stewart said. “Nothing prepares you for that feeling. I did not expect that. All I can say is that dreams do come true.”
Stewart collected his prize at lottery headquarters in Raleigh on Thursday.
He had the option of taking the $1 million as an annuity of $50,000 a year over 20 years or a lump sum of $600,000. Stewart chose the lump sum. After required federal and state tax withholdings, he took home $424,503.
“This will come in handy,” Stewart said. “COVID-19 messed me up. This will help take the pressure off with medical bills. We’ll save and invest some. Maybe buy some land.”