06/06/06 — Duplin man wins big in Powerball

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Duplin man wins big in Powerball

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on June 6, 2006 1:47 PM

BEULAVILLE -- Haywood Mercer was feeling lucky. A week after North Carolina joined the popular lottery game, Powerball, the Duplin County native shelled out a buck for his ticket Saturday at the Short Stop in Beulaville.

Now he's got 200,000 reasons to be one happy man.

Mercer, 62, was watching intently as the numbers popped up on Saturday night while his wife, LaRue, was on the computer.

He couldn't believe what he had just heard, and asked his wife to double check the numbers on the Internet.

Sure enough, he had matched all five numbers, but not the Powerball number that would have given him the estimated $48 million jackpot.

"This is something that happens to other people, not us," LaRue Mercer said today. "It still hasn't sunk in yet."

Mercer knew he was a winner -- he just didn't know how much richer he was at the time.

After checking the pamphlet he had picked up at the Short Stop, which told him he was a $200,000 winner. With taxes cutting about 30 percent of the winnings, Mercer went home with a $136,000 payday when he picked up his prize at Education Lottery headquarters in Raleigh.

Mercer, a heavy equipment operator, said this morning he still doesn't know what they will do with the money. His wife is a newspaper carrier.

"This is a blessing from God," Mrs. Mercer said. "We have had some bad things happen to us in the last few years. We lost two children and had some health problems. But we've been told you have to take the bad with the good. This is truly a blessing."

Although they are certainly excited about their good fortune, the Mercers said family and friends seem more excited than they are.

"The phone has been ringing off the hook with congratulations," she said. "We were so shocked."

The lottery's opening week in North Carolina surpassed expectations, drawing $5.9 million in sales. Executive director Tom Shaheen had originally projected up to $4 million in revenue for the first seven days.

Powerball, the newest game in the lottery's lineup, is a jackpot lottery played across 29 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Wednesday's top prize is projected to be $60 million, and winners have 180 days to come forward to claim their prizes.