RALEIGH — Frank Castillo thought he had won “only” $250,000 in last Friday’s Mega Millions lottery drawing, before finding out that his prize was $1 million instead.
Castillo, a seafood salesman who lives in the Pinnacle area, said he has played the lottery in North Carolina and Virginia for years and always believed he’d eventually be a big winner. That dream came true when he matched all five white balls in the Mega Millions drawing for July 20 and won $1 million.
“I’ve always been a hard-working man and I’ve only played the lottery in moderation,” Castillo said. “I kept playing because I had faith, and now the day has finally come. I’m still pinching myself.”
Castillo had bought his winning ticket at a business in Winston-Salem, Jonestown Family Fare.
After learning which numbers were drawn, he verified his win by returning to the store. The Surry County man wanted the clerk to confirm that he had won $250,000 — but soon learned that because he had bought a $2 “Megaplier” ticket, the prize would be magnified to $1 million.
“When he said $1 million, I almost fainted,” Castillo said. “I felt my knees getting weaker. I caught myself on the counter.”
Castillo plans to use his winnings, worth $680,000 after taxes were withheld, to pay off his mortgage and auto loans, start college funds for his children and start a business.
“I appreciate that the lottery supports education,” Castillo added as he received his prize. “Every time you buy a ticket, you’re making your community better and giving more students a chance to become professionals.”
Since the lottery began through June 30, 2011, Surry County education programs received more than $15.8 million in lottery funds. By law, those funds pay for teachers’ salaries in grades K-3, school construction, prekindergarten programs for at-risk 4-year-olds and need-based college scholarships and financial aid.
To date, the N.C. Education Lottery has raised more than $2.45 billion for these initiatives statewide.