Beer run leads Fort Valley man to $750,000 lottery prize

wcrenshaw@macon.comOctober 23, 2013 

lottery_winner

Surrounded by family and friends, Willie Perry accepts a big check from the Georgia Lottery Commission at the Family Food Mart in Fort Valley where he bought a scratch-off ticket and won a $750,000 payout.

BEAU CABELL — bcabell@macon.com Buy Photo

FORT VALLEY -- Willie Perry Jr. may have his friend’s thirst for a cold beer to thank for his $750,000 in lottery winnings.

Perry and Brian Ragan were towing Perry’s broken down 2005 Ford Taurus home Oct. 15 when Ragan suggested stopping by Family Food Mart in Fort Valley. Ragan wanted a beer and enticed Perry to stop because he knew Perry, who lived nearby, also bought lottery tickets at the store.

As they came out, Perry was scratching off a Giant Jumbo Bucks Anniversary Edition ticket.

Ragan suddenly felt Perry’s arms wrap around him from behind and push him against the car.

“When I saw it I tackled him to the car,” Perry said. “He told me, ‘Don’t you be grabbing on me.’ Then I couldn’t do nothing but point, and when he looked at it, he said, ‘You can tackle me anytime.’ ”

On Wednesday the two, along with numerous other friends and family members, were back at the store to celebrate the win.

After Perry bought the ticket, he immediately had his son drive to the Georgia Lottery office in Macon to pick up his check, which was about $500,000 after taxes.

“I was too nervous to drive,” he said.

However, on Wednesday lottery representatives came to the store to present Perry with an oversize commemorative check, with one for the store also.

Originally from Taylor County, Perry has lived in Fort Valley for 23 years, and much of that time he has worked at Hardee’s locations around Middle Georgia. He is currently a shift leader at the Hardee’s in Barnesville.

Perry said he plans to keep his job “for a while.” He has already bought a new Chevy Silverado pickup with his winnings and plans to pay off the mortgage on his house and renovate it.

Friends and family called Perry a hard-working man who deserves his good luck.

“It couldn’t have happened to a better person,” Ragan said.

As others were describing him, Perry threw in his own word.

“Stingy,” he said.

He hasn’t had any trouble with anybody asking him for money.

“Nah, they know me,” he said. “Don’t even bring it out your mouth. I’m going to take care of me, my wife and sons.”

The store has been a lucky one. In April it sold a $1 million scratch off and later sold a $200,000 one.

It also wasn’t Perry’s first stroke of luck with the lottery. He previously won $10,000, and he won $500 Monday. He said he plans to still keep buying tickets.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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