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Winning lottery ticket almost blew away in the wind. NC man is ‘counting his blessings’

John Hepburn bought his lucky ticket in Raeford, the North Carolina Education Lottery says.
John Hepburn bought his lucky ticket in Raeford, the North Carolina Education Lottery says. NC Education Lottery

A North Carolina man is “counting his blessings” after beating the almost 1-in-a-million odds to win a lottery prize, according to the NC Education Lottery.

And it all happened after he came uncomfortably close to losing his lucky ticket, the lottery said on Twitter.

“Whenever I get my tickets, I put them in my car door,” said John Hepburn of Fayetteville, per the lottery’s Twitter post.

Then last week, “a few of my tickets blew out of the car,” he said, according to the lottery’s news release.

“So I figured I should probably check the other ones and see if I won anything,” Hepburn continued.

Hepburn checked a ticket for Friday’s drawing and discovered he won a $489,211 prize from the Cash 5 game, according to the lottery.

“My son had to help me figure out how much I won,” Hepburn said, per a lottery news release. “ I couldn’t believe it when he told me.”

Scratch-off tickets are by far the most popular lottery games in North Carolina. Here's the details on where they come from and how they are distributed in the state.

Hepburn gets more than $346,000 after tax withholdings, the release said. He will put the prize money toward his grandchildren and mortgage payments, according to the lottery.

Hepburn, a retired Goodyear Tire plant manager, bought the lucky ticket at the Raeford Quick Stop, about 20 miles west of Fayetteville, the lottery said.

Cash 5 and other games “make it possible for the lottery to raise more than $650 million a year for education,” according to the news release.

Simone Jasper is a reporter covering breaking stories for The News & Observer and real-time news in the Carolinas.


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