RALEIGH - Judith Sanchez of Mooresville said she can finally think about retiring after she won a $400,000 lottery prize.

“This is such a relief,” Sanchez said. “I’m still going to work, but now I can breathe a little knowing that I finally have something to put away for retirement.”

The cashier’s good luck started when she stopped after work at the Circle K on North Main Street in Mooresville after work. While there, she bought a Pay Me! scratch-off ticket.

“When I saw that I matched the numbers I couldn’t believe it,” Sanchez said. “I took it up to the clerk and said, ‘I think something’s wrong here. Does this match?’ When she said it did, I was in shock. I was in complete shock. It’s the only way to describe what I felt. I still feel that way.”

Sanchez received her prize Tuesday. After required state and federal tax withholdings, she took home $283,001.

“It feels wonderful,” Sanchez said when she got her check. “It’s been such a whirlwind. I keep thinking I’m going to wake up from a dream.”

The $5 ticket launched in August with four top prizes of $400,000. Two top prizes remain.

Ticket sales from games like Pay Me! 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.

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