Mary Johnson of Denver said she’s going to pay off all her bills in the New Year thanks to a $150,000 lottery prize.

“I’m going to be debt free,” Johnson said. “Can you imagine? It just sounds so good. I’m a single mom of three and this is so exciting. It’s the American dream. What a wonderful way to start the New Year.”

The Harris Teeter employee’s good luck happened on her way to work. She stopped at the Jones Exxon on N.C. 16 in Stanley and bought a $150,000 Cashword scratch-off ticket.

“I thought it was only $5,000 at first,” Johnson said. “I was excited, so I texted a picture of the ticket to my daughter. When she told me I won $150,000 not $5,000, I freaked out. I just cried and cried.”

Johnson claimed the prize Wednesday. After required state and federal tax withholdings, she took home $106,126.

The $5 scratch-off ticket launched in October. Because Johnson won the last $150,000 top prize, the lottery will take steps to end the game.

Ticket sales from games like $150,000 Cashword make it possible for the lottery to raise more than $700 million a year for education. For details on how lottery funds have made a difference in all of North Carolina’s 100 counties, click on the “Impact” section of the lottery’s website.