PLYMOUTH, N.C. -- A U.S. Marine Corps service member and eastern North Carolina man got a Veterans Day surprise that changed his life.
Yaheem Jones wasn't even in North Carolina when he found out he won $1 million through the state's education lottery. He was in Colorado.
"I bought the tickets before I left for Denver and just threw them in my book bag," said Jones. "I flew all the way to Denver with them and everything and I didn't even know I was a winner until a couple of days later."
"I had the flight pass, my itinerary, my checked bag passes and I see the tickets," Jones said. He scratched them off, revealing a prize he couldn't believe.
Jones flew back to North Carolina from Colorado and guarded the ticket with his life.
"I didn't take my hand out of my pocket," he recalled, laughing. "Not one whole time!"
Jones bought the $10 Red Hot Riches ticket from Marks Supermarket on U.S. 64 West in Creswell in Washington County.
Jones, who lives in Creswell and now works as a property manager, is staying true to his military-style discipline. He said he plans to put the money into savings. Jones was previously a combat engineer in the Marine Corps.
After required state and federal tax withholdings, Jones took home $424,503 in a lump sum. Jones' $1 million prize was the game's final one remaining.