Phillip Payne, 65, of Flowery Branch, was on his way to work when he stopped to get something to drink.
As he stood at the counter of Discount Tobacco on Mundy Mill Road in Oakwood, he decided to buy a lottery ticket.
“I was wanting to get a $20 ticket, and I saw it was at the end of the roll so I thought ‘Well, I never win when they’re at the end.’ So I got two of the Jumbos, and first one was a bingo,” Payne said as he held an oversized check for half a million dollars Tuesday during a Georgia Lottery news conference at Discount Tobacco.
Payne quickly scratched the $10 Jumbo Jumbo Bucks ticket and was excited to see a prize for $50,000. “Then I was cleaning it up, and another zero popped up, and ... I couldn’t even talk,” Payne said.
Payne left the store and went to Balus Creek compactor site where he works part time. He tried to explain the winning ticket to his uncle who also works at the site but found himself tongue tied.
“I couldn’t even talk. I couldn’t even tell him. I had to run and get the ticket. I had to show him,” Payne said.
Payne then called his wife, Mary. She thought it was a prank but humored her husband and slowly drove to the compactor site anyway.
“It took her an hour to drive four miles. She didn’t believe me. When she got there she said ‘I’m going to get this verified, where did you buy it at?’ When she drove off, I thought ‘She better not throw my ticket away,’” Payne said.
Mary Payne verified the ticket and went home.
“It took a while for it to sink in. I didn’t believe it at first,” she said.
Reality finally struck when they went to the lottery office and were told they won $500,000, the instant game’s top prize that must be taken in a lump sum, minus 31 percent that is deducted for taxes.
“Wow, what a relief. We’re going to pay off bills. we won’t be struggling week to week or month to month as we’ve been and so it will really help,” Mary Payne said.
The Paynes plan to pay off their house, purchase a new van, tithe and start a trust fund for their two granddaughters. They have also began planning a trip to England to visit their granddaughter next June.
“We wouldn’t have been able to go if we hadn’t won this. This will be our first time to go. They’ve been there for six years and we’ve never been able to go, so now we’re going,” Mary Payne said.