• 41°

“It’s life-altering”

RALEIGH – On a whim, Tony Rawls, a real estate broker from Colerain, logged into his home office desktop around 6 p.m. on April 3, bought extra Cash 5 tickets for that night’s drawing, and woke up eight hours later to an email congratulating him for winning the $375,990 jackpot.

Rawls and his wife, Jolene Morris, are big fans of Cash 5 and they started using Online Play for its convenience.

Tony Rawls and Jolene Morris are all smiles after winning just over $375,000 in the April 3 drawing of the Carolina Cash 5 jackpot. Contributed Photo

“I like the account part and I like being notified,” Rawls said. “I don’t have to check my ticket.”

After waking up in the middle of the night, and seeing the congratulatory email, Rawls wasn’t sure he was seeing things right.

“Of course, it’s 4 o’clock in the morning and you’re not wide awake, and I woke up my wife and I said, ‘Come here and look and see if you’re seeing the same thing I’m seeing,’” said Rawls.

As it turns out, they were both seeing the same thing.

“It said we hit the jackpot!” recalled Rawls.

While the state’s Stay At Home order remains in effect, the lottery decided to lift the requirement that winners of prizes of $100,000 or more claim their prize in person. Since Rawls had an Online Play account, he had the choice of getting his prize money from an electronic funds transfer or by certified check. After federal and state tax withholdings, Tony and Jolene took home $266,027 and received their prize on Friday.

Rawls says the couple plans to invest their winnings.

“It’s life-altering. It puts a different perspective on our retirement plan,” he said. “It just makes it a little bit better.”

Even though they are big winners now, Rawls said their days playing the lottery aren’t over.

“We’re going to continue to play,” he said. “I like the lottery and I like the Cash 5.”

Online Play allows lottery players to purchase tickets online for four draw games, Carolina Cash 5, Lucky For Life, Mega Millions, and Powerball.

Ticket sales from games like Carolina Cash 5 make it possible for the lottery to raise more than $700 million per year for education. For details on how $1.1 million raised by the lottery made a difference in Bertie County last year, visit www.nclottery.com and click on the “Impact” section.