It seemed just like any other afternoon when James Belich stepped out for lunch and stopped by a convenience store.
Belich, a logistics manager in Charlotte, North Carolina, decided to go inside and buy himself a lottery ticket.
He scratched the ticket while still standing in the store, then stared speechless at the card in his hand: he had just won $10 million.
“When he got home, he was so shocked all he could do was hold the ticket up in front of my face,” his wife, Emily, told the North Carolina Education Lottery (NCEL).
“You never expect it. You think maybe you’ll win something, but not $10 million,” said Belich. “It’s unbelievable.”
“Our two boys are too young to really understand. Our oldest is five and he thinks we won $20,” Emily said.
Belich wanted to share the joy with those close to him—he called his brothers, his childhood best friend, and his uncle, before driving off to deliver the good news to his mother in person.
“You know, I’m one of four brothers, my mom was a single mom. We’re all really, really close. It’s important for me to share this win with them,” Belich said.
“When I told her, we both just cried.”
Belich had two choices of claiming his prize—he could either receive $500,000 a year for 20 years or a lump sum of $6 million. He chose the latter, taking home a total of $4,245,009 after taxes on May 21 from the NCEL headquarter in Raleigh.
The grand prize will help Belich make investments, pay the bills, and raise his sons, but no big changes are coming into their life otherwise, he said.
“We like where we live, it’s great to raise a family,” Belich said. “We may buy a few extra rounds for folks when we go out, but this prize will create a brighter future for our kids. That’s what’s important.
“It’s awesome, just a blessing,” he added.
Belich was the first person to win the top lottery prize of the game $300,000,000 Supreme Riches, launched in April, beating the odds of 1 in 3,210,000.
Using Winnings to Help Others
A woman from Quebec, who recently won the lottery prize of $1,000 per week for the rest of her life, said that she wanted to spend the money to make others happy.
Rachel Lapierre, 55, purchased the ticket from Win for Life. She had quit her job as a nurse after winning the prize to dedicate her time on Le Book Humanitaire, a charitable organization she established to help those in need through social media.
“Money is money,” she told the BBC News in a video interview. “When you’re born you don’t have anything, and when you go, you go with nothing but your memories. You go with what you did here in life.”
Lapierre said her passion for helping others went back to over two decades ago, while she was working in the modeling industry.
Lapierre became Miss Quebec at 20 and had the opportunity to tour around Canada.
The publicity she earned became a gateway for Lapierre to open her own modeling school to support young women who wish to have a career in modeling, from where she began a lifelong journey of volunteering, traveling to India, Haiti, and Senegal, and later start a nonprofit of her own.
“I realized that giving pleasure made me happy and that doing good deeds fed me,” she told The Daily Mirror.
“I think happiness comes from the heart. It’s nice to have a new home or car,” she said. “It can be really fun, but you don’t need that to be happy.”
NTD reporter Paula Liu contributed to this report.