Jerry Cooper of Newport said he has always been lucky, but he still stared in shock when his $10 scratch-off ticket revealed a $1 million prize.

“I was in total disbelief,” he said. “It’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime things.”

Cooper, a retail assistant manager, bought his lucky 50X The Cash ticket from Waves Mart & Grill on N.C. 24 in Newport. He called his wife immediately to share the news.

“I told her, ‘You’re not going to believe this. I think we just won a million bucks,’” Cooper said. “She thought I was joking.”

Cooper said he assured her that he wouldn’t joke about something of that nature.

“It’s been kind of surreal for us,” he said. “It’s just a blessing all the way around.”

When Cooper arrived at lottery headquarters Tuesday, he had a decision to make. He could choose to receive his prize as an annuity of $50,000 over 20 years or a lump sum of $600,000. He chose the lump-sum amount of $600,000 and, after required state and federal tax withholdings, took home $427,503.

He said he plans to take a family vacation to the mountains, help pay for his son’s wedding, and put some money toward his retirement.

The 50X The Cash game debuted in February with six top prizes of $1 million. Three $1 million prizes remain to be claimed.

Ticket sales from scratch-off games make it possible for the lottery to raise $2.5 million a day on average for education. Carteret County received $14.9 million in grants, using money raised by the lottery, to help with school construction. For details on other ways Carteret County benefits from lottery funds, visit and click on the “Impact” section.