Marine veteran Yaheem Jones was cleaning out his book bag when he found a lottery ticket worth $1 million.
Jones purchased the Red Hot Riches scratch-off ticket for $10, along with a few others, at a supermarket in Creswell, North Carolina. He was in the middle of a long trip when he made the discovery.
“I bought the tickets before I left for Denver and just threw them in my bookbag,” the former combat engineer and current property manager told WCTI12. “I flew all the way to Denver with them and everything.
“I had the flight pass, my itinerary, my checked bag passes and I see the tickets,” he continued.
Jones immediately scratched off the tickets when he found them, revealing the big prize of the Red Hot Riches lottery. But the prize seemed too good to be true.
“At first, I didn’t believe it,” Jones said. “I thought it was a joke.”
With the winning ticket in hand, the flight home felt like it took days. Jones said it was “nerve-racking.”
“I didn’t take my hand out of my pocket,” he recalled. “Not one whole time!”
Jones made it back to claim his prize, opting for a lump sump rather than spreading the payments out over 20 years. According to state lottery officials, Jones took home $424,503 after taxes.
According to ABC, Jones plans on putting most of the money into his savings.
The odds of winning such a big prize are not big. In fact, as scratchoffodds.com reports, the average player is expected to lose $4.08 for each $10 ticket bought.
The Marine will likely remember this Veterans Day surprise for a long time. He may take more care when cleaning out his book bag from now on, too.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.