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STATE: Set of own numbers score Mecklenburg County man $1 million

A set of special dates delivered Carlos Cortes of Matthews a $1 million Mega Millions prize.

“I had to look at it a few times,” he said. “It was a total surprise.”

Cortes combined significant birth dates to come up with his winning set of numbers and had “been playing them for a bit.” He purchased his winning ticket through Online Play on the lottery’s website.

“I did a few double takes,” he recalled. “I realized it was the five numbers and I probably would have hit the ceiling if the last number hit. It’s a lot more than what I had so that’s the important thing.”

His $2 ticket matched the numbers on all five white balls in the Feb. 12 drawing. The odds of matching all five numbers are 1 in 12.6 million.

Cortes claimed his prize Wednesday and took home $707,511 after required federal and state tax withholdings.

The jackpot for Friday’s drawing stands at $79 million as an annuity prize or $54.4 million cash. The odds of winning a Mega Millions jackpot are 1 in 302 million.

Players can buy Mega Millions tickets through Online Play on the lottery’s website, www.nclottery.com, with the NC Lottery Official Mobile App, or at any lottery retail location.

Ticket sales from draw games like Mega Millions make it possible for the lottery to raise more than $725 million per year for education. For details on how $60.5 million raised by the lottery made a difference in Mecklenburg County in 2020, visit www.nclottery.com and click on the “Impact” section.