For Pink Hill, North Carolina’s Ronnie Foster, it was an oddly complicated sort of day. A retiree from North Carolina’s Department of Transportation, Foster was on his way to his doctor’s office when he decided to make a stop at a convenience store to purchase a scratch-and-win lottery ticket. His day quickly got a whole lot better.
One Quick Stop On the Way to the Hospital
Ronnie Foster was fighting colon cancer and receiving chemotherapy. On the way to his doctor’s office for his last chemotherapy treatment in October 2019, Foster stopped at a Short Stop convenience store in Beulaville in Duplin County, North Carolina. Why? To buy a lottery ticket.
One dollar and one scratch later, Foster had won $5. A good omen, perhaps, but not life-changing by any stretch of the imagination. Not content to settle for a 500 percent return on his investment, Foster decided to double-down. Foster decided to convert his winnings into a $5 lottery ticket. In fact, he did better than that. He told the North Carolina Education Lottery that, “[a]t the last second, I decided to buy two tickets instead of one.” As it turns out, that was a right decision, but let’s not get ahead of the story. Foster scratched that first $5 ticket but won nothing. Thanks to his last-second decision to buy two of those $5 tickets, he wasn’t done yet.
‘All Those Zeroes’
Foster scratched that second ticket and was taken aback by “all those zeroes.” A quick scan of the ticket by the convenience store clerk confirmed it: Foster had won $200,000. Before Ronnie Foster even stepped foot into that Beulaville convenience store, he was happy that it was the day of his last chemotherapy treatment. A winning lottery ticket made the day quite a bit better.
The side effects of chemotherapy treatment can be brutal. They include fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, sore mouth and throat, nausea, poor appetite, hair loss, and skin problems. Not things that money can solve to be sure, but hopefully $200,000 will help with other challenges.
Funny how things work out. On this day of what Ronnie Foster hopes was his last chemo treatment for colon cancer, he also won the last available prize in the lottery’s Win It All game that started in December 2018. The North Carolina Education Lottery raises funds to support pre-kindergarten programs, school construction, college scholarships and grants, non-instructional support, and school transportation in all 100 counties in the state. In 2018 and 2019, the lottery raised over $708,000,000 to support North Carolina’s education budgets.
What is Foster going to use the winnings — $141,501 after taxes — for? Foster said he’s got good insurance, but even that coverage left some unpaid medical bills related to his cancer and treatment. Some of his lottery winnings will go to pay those bills. Winning, he said, “…will make it a whole lot easier.” Lottery winnings sure can make things easier, especially when there are medical bills that need to be paid.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information did a study to determine the cost of colon treatment one year after diagnosis. They determined that the average total colon cancer cost per Medicare patient was $29,196. That’s an average according to one study. There’s no knowing what the cost of Ronnie’s treatment was, but this lottery win is going to help out regardless.
A Feel-Good Story Felt Around the World
Foster’s feel-good story was told and heard around the world. It was picked up and re-told by “USA Today,” ABC News, CNN’s “The Good Stuff,” NBC, CBS, Fox, the “Washington Post,” People, the “New York Daily News,” the “New York Post,” and well beyond those outlets. It has gone even beyond the borders of North Carolina and the United States. Foster’s story was told internationally, including by Canada’s Global News, in England’s “Independent,” on England’s BBC, in the United Arab Emirates’ “Khaleej Times,” and even on www.latestnigeriannews.com. Russel Foster’s story is being discussed in several Reddit conversations that have prompted tens of thousands of reactions.
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