‘I really wasn’t paying attention’: NC veteran wins $10 million scratch-off prize

Monte and Gage Hukill, of High Point, N.C.
Monte and Gage Hukill, of High Point, N.C. Courtesy of the N.C. Education Lottery

A North Carolina Marine Corps veteran and his wife just won a $10 million lottery prize.

Monte Hukill and his wife, Gage, of High Point won the first “Extreme Millions” scratch-off game, landing the top prize of $10 million.

Hukill bought a scratch-off ticket at the Fairway One Stop on Greensboro Road in High Point, then headed home to watch Thursday night football.

“I would scratch a number and then look back at the game,” Hukill told lottery officials. “I wasn’t really paying attention. But that sure did change.”

When he realized he won, Hukill called for Gage.

“I walked over to the stairs and yelled, ‘Hey honey, you might want to come down here,’ ” he said.

Gage worried something was wrong.

“My first initial thought was the kids,” said Gage, a high school English teacher. “But it wasn’t the kids. He showed me this ticket and I just thought, ‘No way. Things like this just don’t happen to ordinary people like us.’ 

The couple put the winning ticket on the nightstand and tried to get some sleep.

“I think I slept with one eye open,” said Hukill. “Because I knew I had won, I just knew it.”

They woke up early and headed to Raleigh with the ticket.

“The whole ride down I kept telling him to prepare because it might not be real,” Gage said. “I can’t believe I was such a Debbie Doubter!”

The Hukills had the choice of a $10 million annuity that has 20 payments of $500,000 per year, or a lump sum of $6 million.

The couple chose the lump sum, and after required state and federal tax withholdings, took home $4,170,069. The Hukills plan on using the money to help their two kids pay for college and pay off Gage’s student loan debt.

“My wife went back to school at 42 to be a high school teacher,” Hukill said. “Education is important in our household. So once we get that settled, then we will think about what to do next.”

“Extreme Millions” launched in December 2016 with four $10 million prizes and 22 $1 million prizes. Three top prizes and 13 $1 million prizes still have not been claimed. Players can also enter their tickets for a chance to win $1 million in a second-chance drawing.