North Carolina man mistakenly buys 2 identical lottery tickets, wins both $25K a year prizes

A North Carolina man made the mistake of his life after accidentally buying two identical Lucky for Life lottery tickets and winning both prizes — $25,000 a year for life. 

"I was just laying in bed watching a basketball game on TV and I couldn’t remember if I filled it out or not," Scotty Thomas of Fayetteville said in a news release from N.C. Education Lottery. "I went ahead and filled it out again and the next morning my son asked why there were two different amounts listed. I realized, ‘I think I filled it out twice.’"

Thomas then received two emails because he bought the $2 tickets using the lottery’s Online Play program on his smartphone. 

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Winners get an email notification when they win. The top prize for Lucky for Life lottery players is $1,000 a day for life. The second-biggest prize is $25,000 a year for life, which Thomas won. Drawings are now held daily.

"When I realized I won, I had to lay down on the floor because I really just couldn’t believe it," Thomas continued. "It’s just a blessing."

The 49-year-old dump truck operator could choose either receiving $50,000 a year for the rest of his life, taking one prize as an annuity — $25,000 a year for life — and the second as a lump sum of $390,000, or cashing in both tickets and taking home two lump-sum prizes of $390,000 each. 

Lottery officials said Thomas chose the lump sum for both winning tickets, equating to $780,000. He said he wanted to invest in his business, pay off some bills, help out his family and possibly buy a house.

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After required federal and state tax withholdings, he took home $551,851.

Lucky for Life is played in several states, mostly in the plains and mountain states. 

This story was reported from Los Angeles.