lottery

It was a great day to be Fort Bragg soldier Johnny Charlestin, who was a $2 million winner in the Powerball drawing of the N.C. Education Lottery.

Charlestin, who is in the Army Reserve, discovered he had won on, of all days, his January 13th birthday. He matched all five white balls on his ticket, and the $1 million prize was automatically doubled for players with Power Play tickets.

“I didn’t believe it, it was a feeling I’ll never forget,” Charlestin said in a news release issued by the lottery. “It’s the best birthday present I’ve ever had.”

Publicity-shy Charlestin could not be reached for further comment. Charlestin is part of the U.S. Army Reserve Command that is headquartered at Fort Bragg. He bought his $3 winning ticket in Spring Lake.

Over the years, there have been other big lottery winners in the military, including U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Tim Ruch, who won $1 million in 2011 on a $20 Golden Boy scratch-off lottery card.

Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Don Burdette won $6.5 million in 2004.  Burdette was a 23-year-old Sailor aboard San Diego-based aircraft carrier USS Nimitz when he won the California Lottery and split a $13 million dollar jackpot with one other Californian.

Air Force Master Sergeant John San Cartier won a $93.4 million Powerball jackpot, clearing him a lump sum payment (after taxes) of $36 million. To say there were no more worries about paying for his children’s college education would be an understatement.

But probably the best lottery win happened last month when Candice Withers, a 32-year old Florida resident, came forward with one of three winning Powerball tickets from last month’s record-breaking jackpot.

Withers, a single mother of 4, was widowed in June, 2014, when her 34-year old husband, Derek Withers, died while serving his second tour in Iraq. Although she receives military benefits and government assistance, she often time fell short financially. But that is about to end, as she pockets her $528 million winnings. She plans to buy a house for herself, her mother, and her four children to live in.