CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A North Carolina man has won a second $1 million lottery prize at the same store in less than two years, lottery officials said Friday.
Terry Splawn, of Concord, won $1 million with a $150 Million Cash Explosion scratch-off ticket he bought Wednesday at Sam’s Mini Stop on Old Charlotte Road in Concord, according to a North Carolina Education Lottery news release. The odds of winning $1 million in that game are 1 in 1.8 million, according to the lottery’s website.
Splawn won his first $1 million prize in April 2017 with a Millionaire Bucks ticket he bought at the same store, lottery officials said. The odds of winning $1 million in that game were 1 in 1.248 million, odds listed on the lottery’s website show.
“What are the odds of this happening?” Splawn asked lottery officials when he claimed his prize at lottery headquarters in Raleigh on Thursday, according to the lottery news release. “I can’t believe I won the lottery not once, but twice! … I just thought, ‘This can’t be happening.’”
“This is rare, but not impossibly rare,” Jan Hannig, a University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill statistics professor, said of the odds of the same person winning two $1 million lottery prizes.
A 2016 investigation by The Charlotte Observer found that some North Carolina lottery players won so often, in such big prize amounts, “that their good fortune defies logic.”
Lottery experts quoted in the Observer’s series said some winners were more than lucky and likely were gaming the system. In some cases, experts said, people buy winning tickets from players for less than the prize amount. The buyer cashes the winning ticket, while the actual player avoids the government’s spotlight.
The North Carolina lottery withholds monies owed to state or local governments. These could include delinquent child support payments or back taxes.
The Observer found players who beat staggering odds so consistently that statisticians said chances of being that lucky were less than one in a trillion.
The lottery has a protocol in place to vet repeat wins by a player, a lottery spokeswoman told the Observer on Friday.
“The lottery has an experienced security team dedicated to investigating wins and making sure they’re legitimate,” spokeswoman Kathleen Jacob said in an email. “Because Terry Splawn won a prize of $100,000 or more, he is considered a big winner. A member of the security team meets with every big winner to determine whether an investigation is needed or not.”
What will trigger an investigation? Such things as “if the back of the ticket is not signed correctly, a player is a retailer, a player works for a retailer, or a player is related to a retailer,” Jacob said.
“If security decides that an investigation is needed, the player will not receive payment until the investigation is complete,” she said.
An investigation could involve questioning the retailer, reviewing security footage, or “pulling system data to verify ticket information,” Jacob said.
“Making sure wins are legitimate is one of the lottery’s top priorities,” she said. “Our players need to be able to trust the lottery, and trust that people are winning fairly.”
Lottery officials are not aware of anyone related to Splawn who works at or owns the Concord store, according to Jacob.
Splawn could not be immediately reached by the Observer on Friday.
In his latest win, Splawn could choose between an annuity with 20 payments of $50,000 a year, and a $600,000 lump sum. He chose the lump sum, according to lottery officials. After tax withholdings, he took home $424,506.
“My wife spent most of the last prize remodeling our home,” Splawn told lottery officials. “I’m keeping this one. I’m going to put it aside for a rainy day.”
The $20 Cash Explosion game started in October with four top prizes of $4 million and six $1 million prizes. Three $4 million prizes and four $1 million prizes remain, according to the lottery.