When Mikala Fields beat odds of nearly 1 in 1.2 million to claim a million-dollar scratch-off prize, she told North Carolina lottery officials, “I didn’t think it was real.”
Less than two weeks after Fields collected the money in 2012, authorities discovered her then-husband had stolen the ticket from a ticket dispenser in the Oak Island convenience store where he worked.
Sean Mewherter eventually pleaded guilty to felony larceny by an employee and received two years probation.
Fields presented herself as a local college student and did not disclose that she got the ticket from her husband or that he worked for a retailer, lottery officials said. She opted for the $600,000 lump sum payout, which ended up being $408,003 after taxes were withheld.
As with other big winners, the lottery issued a press release about Fields, complete with a picture of her grinning while holding an oversized check. A store manager contacted the lottery after Fields claimed the prize, said Capt. Tony Burke of the Oak Island Police Department.
An investigation led them to Mewherter, who never told Fields he stole the ticket, lottery spokesman Van Denton said. Mewherter asked Fields to claim the prize because he said he wasn’t allowed to play the lottery while at work, according to Denton.
No charges were filed against Fields, and the lottery recovered the prize money and tax withholdings.
Fields’ current husband told the Observer she did not want to discuss the case.
Gavin Off: 704-358-6038