Lottery ticket mistake pays offPublished 9:22pm Wednesday, December 5, 2012
He never expected it to happen.
When John Woolard walked into Moody Mart about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday night, he received some really good news from the Ibrahim family, owners of the River Road convenience store: $117,305 worth of good news.
A crowd of Moody Mart regulars had stopped by the store to congratulate Woolard on his Game 5 win in Tuesday night’s N.C. Education Lottery — a win Woolard thought was a joke when store owner, Mohammed Ibrahim, and his two sons, Tony and Sammy, broke the good news.
“He didn’t believe us,” said Tony Ibrahim. “He’s still in shock.”
Woolard, who “runs a saw” at air-filtration manufacturer Flanders Filters, said he has played the same combination of numbers for a long time, but it was Sammy Ibrahim’s help that turned the ticket into a winner: Woolard had filled out the lottery form incorrectly, so Sammy Ibrahim entered the last random number for him. Those numbers, 4–6–13–16–35, are a composite of Woolard’s birthday and his father’s birthday, with a few random numbers thrown in. The 35 was Sammy Ibrahim’s contribution.
Tony Ibrahim said Woolard had been playing the same numbers for about a year.
“He plays the $1 ticket every day,” Tony Ibrahim. “I told him he was going to win one of these days.”
Originally from Sunset Park in Brooklyn, N.Y., by way of a few years running stores in Greenville, the Ibrahim family took over the convenience store about a year and half ago, Tony Ibrahim said. He didn’t know how much of a prize the store would receive for selling the winning ticket.
“We don’t care about what money we make off that,” Tony Ibrahim said. “We like for our customers to win. I’m happy for him.”
Woolard said he’d go to work as usual today, but planned to take off early to head to Raleigh to see about collecting his winnings. Prizes of $100,000 or more must be claimed at lottery headquarters within 180 days from the date of a drawing.
“We love to meet people who’ve had this sort of good luck,” said Chris Bushnell, a spokesman for the N.C. Education Lottery, said during a phone interview. Game 5 winners happen quite frequently statewide, with as many as two or three winners per week, Bushnell said.
“Sometimes, the jackpot will roll a few times before there’s a hit,” he explained, which allows the jackpots to build up.
When it comes to the education lottery, Woolard is not alone in winning big in Beaufort County. Since the lottery’s start, Beaufort County players have won more than $34 million in lottery prizes, according to an N.C. Education Lottery report. Schools in Beaufort County have received more than $11 million in lottery funds, the distribution of which is decided by the state legislature. So far that has amounted to $3,897,645 for teachers’ salaries in grades kindergarten through third; $3,617,962 for school construction projects; $2,679,003 for at-risk four-year-olds to attend pre-kindergarten; $935,312 for need-based college scholarships; and $161,108 for University of North Carolina system’s need-based financial aid.
As for other winning ticket holders, Tuesday’s drawing marks the third Cash 5 jackpot prize this year awarded to a Washington resident: David Ward won $50,000 in the Jan. 27 drawing with the ticket he bought at the Speed Mart of Pitt on Hooker Road, Greenville; Tihishia Keel won half the jackpot in the July 16 drawing to win $43,827 with a ticket she purchased at the Wilco on John Small Avenue in Washington, according to Bushnell.
As for Woolard, he sees a property deed in his near future.
“I’m going to make sure I secure some land to put my trailer on,” Woolard said, when asked what he would do with his winnings. “Land is definitely a part of it.”