Army vet has Purple Heart, Bronze Star and now $200K lottery prize

After spending 30 years with Ft. Bragg’s 82nd Airborne Division, Howard Smack of Elizabeth City, N.C. knows a thing or two about instincts.

And it was those feelings, he said, that led him to a $200,000 lottery prize.

“For some reason I’ve always had good instincts,” said Smack, a Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient. “I’ve always followed them.”

He followed them straight to the Southgate on West Ehringhaus Street in Elizabeth City. While there, he bought three $5 Mega Millions/Powerball scratch-off tickets.

“I just had that feeling and I went for it,” Smack said. “I couldn’t believe it when I won. I may have screamed, just a little bit, I was so excited.”

He claimed the prize Monday at lottery headquarters in Raleigh. After required state and federal tax withholdings, he took home $141,501. Smack said he plans to save the money so he can be prepared for whatever happens in the future. 

“When you’ve served in the military as long as I have,” Smack said. “You always have a short-term and a long-term plan. This couldn’t come at a better time. Last year was a rough one. My father finally got a kidney after being on dialysis for years, so I’ve had to be there for him. This is such a blessing.”

The Mega Millions/Powerball scratch-off game launched in October with four top prizes of $200,000. Since Smack won the last top prize, the lottery will take steps to end the game.