Harland Adams of Marshall is starting 2014 with a $1 million win in the N.C. Education Lottery.
Adams, who travels from his small mountain town to fight forest fires across the U.S., scratched his way to the top prize of the Holiday Gold game on Christmas Eve at the Citistop on Weaverville Highway in Asheville. His win touched off a celebration at the store that “busted my eardrums,” he said.
Adams waited till the new year to claim his prize and said he had no immediate plans for the money. “I’m going to try to put it to good use,” he said.
Adams said the win comes at a good time because his 1983 Ford 150 was getting a little old. “My old truck still runs pretty good,” he said. “If it gets me home, I’m OK. If it makes me walk, I’ll get a new one.”
Top prize winners in the Holiday Gold game can elect to receive annual payments of $50,000 for 20 years or take a lump sum cash option of $600,000. Adams chose the cash option and received a check for $415,203 after state and federal taxes were withheld.
Adams was one of the first big lottery winners of the new year to benefit from lower state income tax rates. Under state law, the lottery now withholds 5.8 percent of prizes that are $600 or greater for state incomes taxes. Previously, the lottery withheld 7 percent. The withholding rate for federal taxes, which is applied to prizes $5,000 or greater, remains at 25 percent.
The change means that all lottery winners of $600 or more will take home more of their winnings. For Adams, the change meant an additional $7,200.
As of September 2013, the lottery has raised more than $3 billion to support education programs. Lottery dollars support teachers’ salaries in grades K-3, school construction and repair projects, prekindergarten programs for at-risk four-year-olds, need-based college scholarships and financial aid and digital learning initiatives.