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Man wins $4 million lottery prize after using fortune cookie numbers

A man in North Carolina, US, has won $4 million (£2.9 million) in the lottery after using numbers from a fortune cookie.

An announcement posted to the North Carolina Lottery’s Twitter account said Gabriel Fierro, a former army sergeant who won its “Mega Millions” prize, plans to celebrate his winnings by buying champagne.

“I don’t usually play my fortune cookie numbers but I tried them on a whim,” the 60-year-old said.

Fierro, who served 32 years in the army before retiring, had been given the fortune cookie at a local pan-Asian restaurant which he visits “about once a week” with his wife.

He purchased his lottery ticket online for $3, and opted to pay an extra $1 to multiply any potential winnings.

NC Lottery said Fierro had matched five numbers to win $1 million (£742,000), but his prize money was quadrupled to $4 million due to the $1 multiplier he had bought.

It is now the largest online win in the history of North Carolina lottery.

“I got an email in the morning and I just stared at it dumbfounded,” Fierro said of receiving the news that he had won.

“I took it and showed it to my wife, and she thought it was an April Fool’s joke or maybe a scam.”

Upon realising that the prize money was real, the couple “started running around the house” and “screaming like a bunch of banshees” from excitement, Fierro added.

Due to federal and state taxes, Fierro’s total take home prize amounted to $2,840,401 (£2,109,672).

The veteran said he plans to invest most of the winnings but will celebrate first with a small purchase.

“We are going to buy some champagne on the way home,” he said.

Elsewhere in the US this week, a woman from Oakland, Michigan, almost missed out on a $3 million (£2.2 million) jackpot after the email notifying her of the win was delivered to her junk folder.

Laura Spears, 55, said she had only discovered the email after going into her junk folder to look for a missing email from someone else.

“I couldn’t believe what I was reading, so I logged in to my lottery account to confirm the message in the email,” Spears said, adding that she plans to use the money to retire earlier than planned.

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