PaschalsJames Paschal of Broadway is the first North Carolina player to win $1 million in the new decade.

“It’s like a dream,” Paschal said. “Happy New Year to me. This is incredible.”

The town commissioner’s good fortune happened when he stopped at the Fastee Mart on Lee Avenue in Sanford and bought a $10 Big Money scratch-off ticket.

“I was shell-shocked,” Paschal said. “I thought I was reading it wrong. When I told my wife, she started screaming. We jumped up and down and hugged each other.”

Paschal claimed his prize Thursday at lottery headquarters in Raleigh. He had the choice of taking a $1 million annuity that has 20 payments of $50,000 a year or a lump sum of $600,000. He chose the lump sum. After required state and federal tax withholdings, he took home $424,503. He plans to use the money to pay bills.

“We never thought we’d see the day when we’d be debt free,” Paschal said. “But here it is.”

Big Money started in December with three $1 million top prizes. One top prize remains.

Ticket sales from scratch-off games make it possible for the lottery to raise more than $700 million a year for education.

– From the N.C. Education Lottery