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Free lottery ticket from COVID-19 vaccination earns man $1 million

Gary Smith of Arlington, Texas, received his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine while visiting family in Arkansas and the scratch-off lottery ticket he was given as part of the state's incentive program earned him a $1 million jackpot. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Gary Smith of Arlington, Texas, received his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine while visiting family in Arkansas and the scratch-off lottery ticket he was given as part of the state's incentive program earned him a $1 million jackpot. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

July 20 (UPI) -- A Texas man who received a free scratch-off lottery ticket when he got his COVID-19 vaccine in Arkansas ended up claiming a $1 million jackpot.

Gary Smith of Arlington told Arkansas Scholarship Lottery officials he was visiting family in the state last week when they decided to get their second doses of the vaccine at the local health department office.

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Smith said he was told his vaccination proof could be used to obtain a $20 scratch-off lottery ticket for free or a $20 gift certificate for the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission as part of the state's incentive program, and he chose the lottery ticket.

Smith said he couldn't believe it when he scratched off the $1 Million Spectacular ticket and revealed the $1 million top prize.

"I know they're lying," Smith recalled thinking when he revealed the prize. "I couldn't believe it."

The winner said his family members were equally surprised.

"My grandmother was the first person that I told about my win," Smith said. "We both were in total shock! She immediately wanted to leave to get her another ticket."

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Smith said he plans to use some of his winnings to pay bills and help family members.

"I recently got engaged in April and blessed to have the wedding and honeymoon of my dreams with my future wife," Smith said.

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