FORT VALLEY -- Willie Perry Jr. may have his friends thirst for a cold beer to thank for his $750,000 in lottery winnings.
Perry and Brian Ragan were towing Perrys 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 Perrys 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, Dont you be grabbing on me. Then I couldnt 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 Hardees locations around Middle Georgia. He is currently a shift leader at the Hardees 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 couldnt have happened to a better person, Ragan said.
As others were describing him, Perry threw in his own word.
Stingy, he said.
He hasnt had any trouble with anybody asking him for money.
Nah, they know me, he said. Dont even bring it out your mouth. Im 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 wasnt Perrys 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.