North Carolina lottery winner had family pick numbers: 'I started hyperventilating'

David Morris and his wife. (Credit: NC Education Lottery)

A North Carolina father came up with an idea that turned out to be a winning strategy for the lottery: asking his family to pick the numbers. 

David Morris of Pineville ended up winning a $1 million Mega Millions prize in Tuesday’s drawing after asking one of his sons to pick the numbers. 

It was the fourth-largest Mega Millions jackpot ever, but no one took home the grand prize, and now the jackpot stands at $1.55 billion with the next drawing set for Tuesday night.

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Morris said he only played the lottery after seeing the big jackpot. He will try again for Tuesday's drawing. 

He had matched numbers on all five white balls to win $1 million. He bought the ticket from the 7-Eleven on South Park Street in Pineville. 

"I started hyperventilating," he said in a news release. "I called my wife at work and told her to come home right away."

After state and federal tax withholdings, he took home $712,501.

"We want to buy some land up in the Smoky Mountains where my wife is from," he continued. 

"It’s great to see a $1 million Mega Millions winner like David here in North Carolina," Mark Michalko, executive director of the N.C. Education Lottery, said. "Of course, we would love to see a new billionaire in the state tonight. Check your tickets carefully and good luck to everyone going for the jackpot tonight."

The $1.55 billion prize would be for a sole winner who chooses the annuity option with payment stretched over 30 years. Most winners opt for a lump-sum payment, which would be an estimated $757.2 million on Tuesday.

A big slice of those winnings would go toward federal taxes, while many states also tax lottery payouts.

The jackpot is so hard to win because of the 1 in 302.6 million odds of matching the numbers on five white balls and a separate mega ball. The odds are better to win smaller prizes, which start at $2.

Mega Millions is played in 45 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.