REGIONAL: Charlotte man’s cigar craving led to $1 million Powerball win

Published 11:32 am Friday, July 22, 2022

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John Gerenza of Charlotte wanted a cigar so he stopped at a grocery store, decided to play Powerball, too, and walked out with a ticket that would win him $1 million.

Gerenza’s $2 Quick Pick ticket, purchased at the Harris Teeter on South Tryon Street in Charlotte, matched numbers on five white balls in Saturday’s drawing to win $1 million. He claimed his prize Thursday at lottery headquarters and, after required federal and state tax withholdings, took home $710,101.

“Obviously I was ecstatic,” said Gerenza, 62. “We still don’t believe it actually.”

He said he would like to use some of his winnings to take a family vacation to the beach.

Saturday’s Powerball drawing offers a $119 million jackpot, or $69.2 million in cash. The odds of winning a Powerball jackpot are 1 in 292 million.

Powerball is one of four lottery games in North Carolina where players have the option of buying their tickets at a retail location or with Online Play through the lottery’s website or with the NC Lottery Official Mobile App. The other games are Mega Millions, Lucky For Life, and Carolina Cash 5.

Ticket sales from draw games like Powerball make it possible for the lottery to raise $2.5 million a day on average for education. For details on how $62.6 million raised by the lottery made a difference in Mecklenburg County in 2021, visit and click on the “Impact” section.