NC man wins $344M Powerball with fortune cookie numbers

A North Carolina man's 'lucky numbers' scored him a $344.6 million jackpot. 

Charles Jackson of Cumberland County has been playing Powerball and Mega Millions with the same numbers twice a week for more than two years. He says his granddaughter got a fortune cookie at a Vietnamese restaurant with the same numbers recently, and they proved to bring good fortune. 

His dream of winning has come true thanks to a winning ticket sold at Carlie C's IGA in Hope Mills on Friday. 

“You play to win,” said Jackson. “But you never really expect to win the whole dang pot.”

On Tuesday morning, Jackson decided to check his ticket. 

“I didn’t see it all at first,” said Jackson. “I thought I had only matched four of the five white balls. I thought that meant I had only won $50,000. I called my wife and told her, ‘I need to go to Raleigh. I won something!’”

After hanging up the phone, Jackson realized that he was in for far more than $50,000. 

“I decided to check again,” said Jackson. “I saw the last number and thought, ‘I’ve won the whole thing!’ I didn’t know how much I had won until I googled it. I couldn’t believe it! I still can’t believe it. I’m numb.”

Jackson traveled to Raleigh on Tuesday to claim his prize, a lump sum payment of $158 million after taxes. He says the money is life-changing, but that it won’t change who he and his family are, and what they are about.

“It probably won’t change much,” said Jackson. “I mean, let me put it this way, I will still wear jeans. But I will probably buy some new ones!”

Jackson says he also wants to use some of the money to pay it forward. 

“I want to do something good,” said Jackson. “I’m going to donate to St. Jude Hospital, the Wounded Warriors Project and the Shriners. I always said I would if I ever won the lottery. So I’m going to make due on that promise.”

Jackson is the seventh North Carolinian to win a Powerball or Mega Millions jackpot. His win is now the largest in state history, with the last being $188 million in 2015.