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An Iredell County woman is celebrating her birthday early after winning the first $1 million prize in the new $25,000,000 Casino Cash game from the N.C. Education Lottery.

“Last year, I was bummed because I got a speeding ticket the week before my birthday,” said Christy Steele of Statesville. “This year I got a winning ticket!”

Steele, an IT project manager, was taking care of some family business when she decided to buy the $10 ticket at Barker’s Log Cabin Grocery on Harmony Highway in Harmony, according to a press release from the lottery.

“I was just feeling lucky that day for some reason,” said Steele. “I figured I’d give it a try.”

Steele scratched one of the four games on the ticket to reveal the top prize of $1 million.

“My kids didn’t believe me,” said Steele. “They were like, ‘Mama, OK, whatever. Stop playing.’ Finally my daughter said, ‘I don’t think she’s playing this time!’”

Steele claimed her prize Friday at lottery headquarters in Raleigh. Winners have the option to take an annuity of $50,000 a year over 20 years or a lump sum of $600,000. Steele chose the lump sum. After required federal and state withholdings, she took home $424,503.

Steele plans to invest the money as well as pay for her daughter’s college tuition.

“We helped our son graduate college debt-free,” said Steele. “I plan to do the same for our daughter.”

The $25,000,000 Casino Cash launched this month with three top prizes of $1 million. Two top prizes remain to be claimed. Casino Cash tickets can also be entered into three MGM Casino Cash second-chance drawings for a chance to win a trip to Las Vegas and a stay at an MGM resort. The deadline to enter the first drawing is Sunday.

A total of $10.5 million in lottery funds went to Iredell County schools last year.

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