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'Dumbfounded' | Disabled Army veteran wins $4 million jackpot using fortune cookie numbers

A retired Army sergeant and his wife eat at Charlotte's Red Bowl every week. His most recent trip landed a $4 million Mega Millions prize.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Cornelius, North Carolina, man's fortune cookie really did bring good luck, as he played the numbers inside and turned $3 into a $4 million Mega Millions prize. 

Gabriel Fierro, a retired Army sergeant with 32 years of service, said he got the ticket from the Red Bowl in Charlotte, where he and his wife eat every week. Fierro said he typically doesn't use the fortune cookie numbers to play the lottery but he decided to take a chance. 

It paid off in a big way. He bought his ticket online and added $1 to make it a Megaplier ticket. He matched all five white balls to win $1 million and then the prize quadrupled when the 4X Megaplier hit. His $4 million prize is the largest win in the history of online play in the North Carolina Education Lottery. 

WCNC Charlotte is always asking "where's the money?" If you need help, reach out to the Defenders team by emailing money@wcnc.com.

“I got an email in the morning and I just stared at it dumbfounded,” Fierro said. “I took it and showed it to my wife and she thought it was an April Fool’s joke or maybe a scam.”

Fierro, who retired after serving in Iraq, collected his prize this week. After taxes, he brought home $2.8 million. He plans to invest most of his winnings. In fact, he only had plans to buy one item in particular. 

"We are going to buy some champagne on the way home," he joked. 

The next Mega Millions drawing in North Carolina is Friday, Jan. 21. A winner could take home the jackpot with an annuity paying out $376 million over 29 years or choose the cash option, which is roughly $256 million. 

Click here to learn more about the North Carolina Education Lottery

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