Entertainment And News

Man Wins $100,000 In Lottery & Pledges To Pay It Forward In The Sweetest Way

Photo: Roman Samborskyi / Shutterstock
Lottery winner celebrating

After a man won what many would consider a life-changing amount of money, he decided to use it to give back.

What would you do if you won the lottery? Some people might buy a new car or take a nice vacation or do something else for themselves. But some choose to use it for a more altruistic purpose. One man decided to use it for education.

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A North Carolina lottery winner won $100,000 and pledges to pay it forward. 

Souleymane Sana is 39 years old and resides in New Bern, North Carolina, where he works as a dance instructor. However, Sana is originally from the capital of Mali, Bamako, before emigrating to the United States. He’s carried with him a passion for Mali’s dance and culture.

“I love to dance. The only thing I care about is the culture,” he said in an interview with NC Education Lottery

He works to give back to schools in Mali, so fittingly, when he bought a lottery ticket, it was from a lottery that goes toward a good cause. The NC Education Lottery raises $2.5 million per day for education.

After he bought his $30 winning scratch-off ticket for the lottery’s Millionaire Maker, Sana retrieved the winnings from the headquarters, taking home $71,259 after federal and state taxes.

“I’m going to keep doing my best to help build more classrooms for the children in Mali,” he said. “That is the thing that makes me really happy.”

Sana explained that the reason he bought a lottery ticket was to get the opportunity to give back more. “This was my dream,” Sana said. “That was one of the main reasons I bought that scratch ticket was to be able to keep helping them.”

In addition to that, he elaborated on the state of many schools in Mali. Things as simple as a room to have class are not a guarantee.

“These schools don't even have a classroom. They don't have a desk to sit [at]. They have to walk miles and miles to come,” he said.

According to UNICEF, over two million children in Mali from ages five to 17 do not go to school. That’s a significant number in a country of nearly 22 million people. On top of that, nearly half of all people aged 15 to 24 are illiterate. Though, Sana doesn’t just want to give children in Mali a standard education; he also wants to give them a cultural element. Growing up, he said that dance was not appreciated in his home, so he now wants to change that.

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He plans to build a dance center in Mali.

“I love to dance and I want to teach the children in Mali to love it too,” he said. “If you talk about culture and you talk about education, they both go together. Some of the money is going to be used to start building a dance center there.”

According to the Borgen Project, unofficial estimates place the homeless children population in his home city of Bamako at around 6,000. So, it is especially difficult for them to go to school each day, which Sana is setting out to fix!

“[The dance center is] to be able to have more children come to study, especially the street children who don't have a place to stay,” he said. This win is a dream come true for him. He was already dedicated to philanthropy to improve his home, and now he’s able to give back more than he ever could prior. 

“My dream is just becoming true little by little and I hope it will keep going,” Sana said.

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Ethan Cotler is a writer living in Boston. His writing covers entertainment, news and human interest stories.