STATE: Lincoln County grandpa wins $25,000 A Year for Life while on taco run

Published 4:20 pm Wednesday, February 10, 2021

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RALEIGH – While on a taco run with his grandson, Wendell Pentecost of Lincolnton decided to try his luck on a single Lucky for Life ticket and ended up winning $25,000 A Year for Life.

“I was on the way to get tacos with my autistic grandson and I bought the ticket,” he said. “I adopted him and I’ve been raising him for 11 years.”

Pentecost purchased his winning Quick Pick ticket for the Jan. 7 drawing from 1 Stop on West Old North Carolina Highway 150 in Crouse. Later that night, he decided to check his tickets and “there it was.”

The next morning, he called his family to share the good news.

“My brother is down from Virginia spending time with my mother, she has lung cancer,” he said. “I told him I hit the lottery last night and he was more excited than I was. My brother and my mom said, ‘You lying!’ And I said, ‘I ain’t lying, I told you I was gonna win this thing.”

Winners are guaranteed $25,000 every year for life, or have the option of taking a lump sum of $390,000. He chose the lump sum and took home $275,933 after required federal and state tax withholdings.

“We really appreciate being able to win,” said Pentecost. “We’re really thankful.”

His plans for the prize money include sharing some with family and “saving most of it.” But Pentecost does have his eye on one purchase for himself.

“I’m probably looking at a classic car that I used to have,” he said. “A ’68 or ’69 Camaro. Drive it down to get some tacos or a hamburger and drive back home.”

Lucky for Life is one of four lottery games in North Carolina where players have the option of buying their tickets through Online Play either through the lottery’s website or with the NC Lottery Official Mobile App. Tickets cost $2 and offers players 10 ways to win a prize.

Drawings are held on Monday and Thursday nights. The top prize is $1,000 A Day for Life.

Ticket sales from draw games like Lucky for Life make it possible for the lottery to raise more than $725 million a year for education. For details on how $4.7 million raised by the lottery made a difference in Lincoln County last year, visit and click on the “Impact” section.