Two Best Friends Become Tennessee Lottery Millionaires

Posted on October 12, 2021

It’s not every day that $30 turns into $3 million.

For two lucky friends from Carthage, Tennessee, however, Oct. 1 was the start of a valuable new chapter in their lives.

Best friends become Tennessee Lottery winners

Wyatt Close and his friend Brandon Thompson were driving to work one Friday morning when they decided to split the cost of two $30 scratch-off lottery tickets.

Thompson was skeptical at first, almost backing out of the agreement altogether.

But when they pulled into the QuikTrip in Lebanon that fateful day, everything suddenly changed.

Close’s go-to lottery game was unavailable. Instead, he opted for two Jumbo Bucks Titanium instant tickets and carried them back to the van. Then came the moment of truth.

The first scratch-off was a dud. The second, on the other hand, resulted in a $3 million payday for the lucky duo. Close said:

“I saw those black bold numbers and just started jumping.”

Thompson continued:

“I thought he was going to jump through the roof of the van.”

Close currently owns his own car detailing business, but both friends plan to invest in their future and build a home with their newfound earnings.

Tennessee Lottery winners add up

Close and Thompson aren’t the only Tennessee Lottery players that become substantially richer this October.

A Memphis Powerball player won $2 million last Monday after purchasing a ticket at the S-Mart on Stage Road in Bluff City.

The participant matched all five of the first five white numbers, instantly winning $1 million.

And because the player also purchased the $1 Power Play add-on feature, winnings automatically doubled to $2 million.

Powerball First Millionaire of the Year contest

Those that haven’t hit it rich yet have more opportunities to do so this month.

From now until Oct. 25, Powerball players can give their tickets a second life by entering them into a drawing for a chance to become the first Powerball millionaire of the year.

All Powerball tickets purchased and entered between 5:00 a.m. CT, Oct. 1 and 11:59 p.m. CT, Oct. 25 are eligible. A drawing will then be held in the days following to select 38 semi-finalists.

These semi-finalists will each win a $1,000 prize along with a gift bag from the Tennessee Lottery. They will then advance to join contenders from around the nation in the race to become the Powerball First Millionaire of the Year.

Those national finalists will be whittled down to five contestants, with the winner announced live on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.

To enter the contest, Tennesseans can visit or the TN Lottery app. Participants earn one entry for every $1 spent on eligible Powerball tickets.

Tennessee Lottery VIP Rewards

Tennessee VIP Rewards members also have the opportunity to earn a variety of other prizes from their non-winning tickets throughout the course of the year.

Program membership is free, and participants earn VIP Rewards Points for every drawing-style and instant ticket entered.

Tickets are then automatically submitted into Tennessee’s Play It Again! contest. Much like the Powerball Rockin’ Eve promotion, these points can be redeemed for entries into various giveaways.

During the month of October, players can take advantage of two different VIP Rewards Drawings. Tennesseans can enter to win tickets to the Tennessee Volunteers vs. Georgia Bulldogs football game on Nov. 13 or enter to become one of 10 lucky participants to win a prize of $5,000.

Photo by Associated Press
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Alec Cunningham

As a college athlete, Alec Cunningham played Division II golf at Tusculum University. She graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Professional Writing. She then returned to her love of written word in 2000 after working in the music industry as a concert promoter, tour manager and artist developer. As a journalist, she's covered a variety of topics and currently specializes in Tennessee online sports betting and Virginia casino news. She served as a panelist at this year's All American Sports Betting Summit, discussing the ever-evolving role of women in the gambling industry.

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