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NC chef used $25 lottery winnings to buy more tickets. Then he won $1 million

A small-town chef who won $25 in the North Carolina Education Lottery decided to use the money to buy more tickets, and his instinct proved right.

Tyler Wagoner of Salisbury ended up with a $10 Back Scratch ticket worth $1 million, according to a press release from the N.C. Education Lottery.

Wagoner was parked outside the Circle K gas station on East Main Street in Rockwell when he decided to test his luck and go back inside, according to the release.

“I thought, ‘Might as well,’” Wagoner said in a statement. “I scratched it right there and saw I had won $1 million. ... I can’t believe it.”

He claimed the money Thursday, opting for a lump sum of $600,000, rather than an annuity of $50,000 annually, lottery officials said. After taxes and other withholdings, the prize came to $424,503, officials said.

Wagoner is a chef at Danny’s Place in Rockwell, and the win came at a time when he was worried about having enough money for gas, according to the release. Rockwell is a town of about 2,100 people, 40 miles northeast of Charlotte.

The first person Wagoner told was his dad, because the two have a running joke “about winning the lottery,” said the release.

“When I called him up, he thought it was a joke,” Wagoner said in the release. “He made me send him a picture of me holding the ticket up to my face before he would believe me.”

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