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2/21/2006 1:20:51 PM

Columbia, SC: Theresa W. Melton, of Hartsville, could hardly wait for the South Carolina Education Lottery’s (SCEL) Columbia Claims Office to open. On Monday, she won the top prize of $1 million on SCEL’s instant ticket, $100 Million Cash Bonanza.

"I found out about 3:30 yesterday afternoon," said 58-year-old Melton. "If there was anyway I could have gotten here, but you all were closed."

SCEL was closed Monday in observance of President’s Day — a state holiday.

“I was picking up my grandson and stopped by a convenience store and picked up a ticket,” said Melton. "I won $8. I put two dollars to it and got the Cash Bonanza ticket.”

After a trip back home, Melton began to scratch and reveal what she won. “I saw 11 and saw 11 then it said $1 MIL.” Melton rushed to the closest lottery retailer and had the clerk validate the ticket. “I said, ‘this can’t be right.’ The clerk said to me, ‘Oh, it’s right.’ I got home barely and started calling.”

The first person she called was not family. “I called my boss first and she said, ‘Terri you’re not coming back to work are you?’ And I said, ‘give me a couple of days and I’ll let you know.’”

Melton has good intentions for her newfound wealth.

“I want to help my family a little bit. I will probably get a new car, but my daughter is in law school, so maybe these last couple of months will be a little [financially] easier,” Melton said.

However, the best thing of all for Melton is, “I want to go to the store and not have to look at a price tag buy I buy something. I want to do that just one time.”

Melton purchased her ticket at Quick Mart, located at 204 W. Carolina Avenue in Hartsville.

SCEL launched $100 Million Cash Bonanza on July 26, 2005. The remaining prizes include two top prizes of $1 million still waiting to be won.

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