When James Zech of Winston-Salem uncovered a $500,000 prize on his $10 lottery ticket, he couldn’t wait to surprise his wife with the news.

“I went home and told my wife we won a half-million dollars but she didn’t believe me,” Zech laughed. “After I surprised my wife with it, we called my daughter.”

Zech, 73, said he usually only buys $3 or $5 scratch-offs but he had an urge to go with something different.

“For some reason I just decided to try a $10 one,” he said. “I like playing crosswords in real life.”

Zech bought his lucky $500,000 Cashword ticket from the Food Lion on Kinnamon Village Loop in Clemmons. He claimed his prize Monday at lottery headquarters in Raleigh and, after required federal and state tax withholdings, took home $355,053.

“The first thing we are going to do is treat the family to a nice Thai dinner,” Zech said.

He said he will also use his winnings to possibly go on a family vacation to the beach.

The $500,000 Cashword game debuted in March with three $500,000 prizes. Since Zech won the last top prize in the game, the lottery will begin the process of ending the game.

Ticket sales from scratch-off games make it possible for the lottery to raise more than $2.5 million a day on average for education. For details on how $21.4 million raised by the lottery made a difference in Forsyth County in 2021, visit www.nclottery.com and click on the “Impact” section.