"It took me a while to make sure I wasn't dreaming."

Yibeltal Belachew, a resident of Woodbridge, Virginia, just won $7 million in the Virginia Lottery. "It took me a while to make sure I wasn't dreaming," he told lottery officials, according to the Washington Post. "You don't believe that kind of stuff right away."

He'd bought the winning ticket at a Fairfax Safeway, and after scratching his "100X The Money" ticket, he saw he had won something but did not know what or how much. Upon checking it later, he realized he'd won the top prize of $7 million—a prize which two other winners have yet to claim. (Quick, check your tickets!)

Belachew's a lucky man—the Washington Post and the Virginia Lottery reported that while the odds of "winning any prize" in this particular game are 1 in 2.77, the odds of Belachew taking home the top prize were "1 in 2.6 million."

While the average person might be under the impression that winning the lottery means getting the amount on the ticket, Belachew actually had two options with this particular prize. The only way to get the full $7 million was "in annual payments over 30 years," while the other option was a "one-time-cash-option of $4.2 million before taxes." According to the Virginia Lottery, "He chose the cash option." 

The Virginia Lottery, which was "authorized by Virginia voters in a successful 1987 referendum...generates more than $2 million per day for Virginia's K-12 public schools." And in the 2020-2021 fiscal year, "lottery customers helped generate more than $765 million in funding for public education." 

However, as the Virginia Lottery reminded after sharing Belachew's story—as inspiring as it is, "as with all gaming, please remember to play responsibly."

Tell us your lottery stories in the comments!