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A Hickory woman plans to use $100,000 she won in the state education lottery to pay bills and save for the future.
Debbie Keener, a surgical technologist, is the first player to win the top prize in the N.C. Education Lottery's new $100,000 taxes-paid, scratch-off game.
Keener bought her winning ticket at Jack B. Quick on Falls Avenue in Granite Falls.
"I couldn't believe it at first," Keener said. "I kept looking at the ticket. I was shaking. I was so excited. I didn't realize right away that the taxes were paid."
The $5 game marks the first time the lottery has offered players a chance to take home one of six after-tax prizes of $100,000.
The lottery will pay the minimum mandatory required federal and state tax withholdings as part of the top prizes awarded for each of the three instant games, according to a press release. The actual top prize Keener claimed was $147,059.
â€śIâ€™ve always thought it would be great to win a prize like this,â€ť Keener said. â€śI donâ€™t need the million-dollar prizes or anything like that. This money will make life easier.â€ť
As of Wednesday morning, five top prizes remain in the new taxes-paid game.
Catawba County education programs received more than $27.8 million since lottery games began. By law, those funds pay for teachersâ€™ salaries in grades K-3, school construction, need-based college scholarships and pre-kindergarten programs.