A former Marine combat engineer celebrated this Veterans Day with a million-dollar prize.
Yaheem Jones was preparing for a flight home to North Carolina from Denver when he found a winning lottery ticket in the bottom of his book bag, according to a press story from the NC Education Lottery.
“I had the flight pass, my itinerary, my checked bag passes and I see the tickets,” he said in the press release. Jones had bought the tickets in a supermarket in North Carolina before leaving for Colorado.
Jones began scratching off tickets one by one until he came across a winning ticket worth $1 million.
“At first, I didn’t believe it,” Jones said. “I thought it was a joke.”
Flying back to his home in Creswell, North Carolina, with his winning ticket was nerve-wracking, he said. “I didn’t take my hand out of my pocket."
Jones walked into lottery headquarters in Raleigh on Tuesday to claim his prize. Given the choice between an annuity of 20 payments of $50,000 each year or a lump sum of $600,000, he chose the latter option, according to NC Education Lottery.
After state and federal tax withholdings, Jones walked into Veterans Day $424,503 richer than before.
Jones said he plans to put the winnings into savings and that they will “help a lot.”
Marine Corps Times reached out to Jones, who declined to comment. Marine Corps Times also reached out to the Marine Corps for Jones' service record, and has yet to receive it.