A man in North Carolina is $4 million richer after using the numbers he found in a fortune cookie to play the lottery.
Gabriel Fierro of Cornelius, N.C., played a $4 Multiplier Mega Millions ticket and won last Tuesday's drawing for a total of $4M in winnings, according to a blog post on the North Carolina Education Lottery's website.
"I don't usually play my fortune cookie numbers but I tried them on a whim," Fierro, 60, said.
The retired master sergeant — who spent 32 years with the Army and retired as a disabled combat veteran after spending time in Iraq — said the fortune cookie came from the Red Bowl restaurant in Charlotte where he regularly eats with his wife.
Fierro played Mega Millions last week, buying a $3 ticket using Online Play and adding $1 to make it a Megaplier ticket, which would multiply any win.
He matched all five white balls to win $1 million, which was then quadrupled to $4 million thanks to his Megaplier.
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The N.C. Education Lottery blog post noted that the $4 million prize is the largest win in the history of Online Play in the state.
"I got an email in the morning and I just stared at it dumbfounded," Fierro said. "I took it and showed it to my wife and she thought it was an April Fool's joke or maybe a scam."
But when they realized their winnings were legitimate, the pair naturally began celebrating. "We started running around the house screaming like a bunch of banshees," Fierro said.
When Fierro arrived at lottery headquarters to collect his prize, his net total after federal and state tax withholdings was $2,840,401.
He said that while he planned to invest most of his winnings, he would still set aside some cash to celebrate.
"We are going to buy some champagne on the way home," Fierro said.