Durham County

‘Wow, just wow.’ Cree machinist’s lunch break comes with big lottery payoff

N.C. Education Lottery

A lunch break stop at a Miami Boulevard convenience store turned out to be lucky for machinist at Cree, Inc.

Christopher Hawley of Lillington bought a pair of $5 million Mega Cash tickets from the Quality Mart on South Miami Boulevard and one of them turned out to be a grand prize winner.

“I’ve never dreamed I’d win this,” Hawley said in a news release from the North Carolina Education Lottery. “Wow, just wow. I’m still in shock.”

Hawley was on his lunch break when he decided to buy the lottery tickets. After returning to work, Hawley scratched the tickets in his car.

“At first, I thought I won $20,” Hawley said. “But then I kept scratching and saw the dollar sign and the five. I was like, ‘Oh my goodness.’ It’s pretty much like Willy Wonka’s golden ticket.”

He called his wife, Tracey, to share their stroke of luck.

“I was like, ‘What? Are you serious?’” Tracey said. “My co-worker asked if somebody had just won the lottery, and I was like, ‘You have no idea.”

After federal and state tax withholdings, Hawley’s first installment was $173,758. He will continue to receive payments for 19 more years.

He said he doesn’t know what he’ll do with all the money yet, but he knows he wants to pay all his bills and buy his wife a nicer wedding ring.

Hawley is the first player to win the $20 game’s top prize since it began in May. Two top prizes remain.

Durham-based Cree is a market leading maker of lighting-class LEDs, LED lighting, and semiconductor products for power and radio-frequency applications.

Joe Johnson: 919-419-6889