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‘We both nearly fainted.’ Retired N.C. cop celebrates stunning lottery win

Retired Det. Costa Walton says he intends to divvy up the money between his children, nieces and nephews


NC Education Lottery

By Joe Marusak
The Charlotte Observer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A retired Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police detective stopped at a convenience store and saw a lottery ticket that said he could win $1 million. Why not buy one? he figured. He’s lucky he did after hitting the jackpot, North Carolina lottery officials said Friday.

“It’s one of the happiest days of my life,” Costa “Rick” Walton of Mint Hill said when he claimed his prize at lottery headquarters in Raleigh on Thursday, according to an N.C. Education Lottery news release. “And I’m almost 70.”

Walton, who is 68, bought the $30 Millionaire Maker ticket at Flash Market on Old Monroe Road in Indian Trail on Wednesday.

In an interview with The Charlotte Observer on Saturday, Walton said he waited until he got home to scratch off the ticket with his wife of 47 years, Gaynell.

His wife began scratching off the money bag part of the ticket to see how much he’d won and the letters “MIL” appeared, he said.

“Rick,” she said calmly, one word at a time. “That’s. One. Million. Dollars.”

“And we both nearly fainted,” Walton told the Observer.

Walton beat odds of 1 in 2.95 million, according to the Millionaire Maker page on

Walton took home $426,069 after taxes, officials said. He had the option of a $50,000 annuity over 20 years or a $600,000 lump sum. He chose the lump sum, according to the lottery.

Walton said he’s enjoyed playing the NC lottery for at least 20 years.

He twice won $500, he said, but anything else “was very, very minimal.”

As he told lottery officials in Raleigh: “I guess this was my lucky time. I’m just elated.”

He told lottery officials he intends to use the money to pay bills and help out his family.

What he meant by “helping family,” he told the Observer, was that he has a pension and no great needs. So he intends to divvy money out to their daughter, son, nieces and a nephew.

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