Former publisher wins lotto jackpot

DULUTH - On Monday night as Bob McCray gave his son a bath, his wife, Janet, gave him a start. Then she gave him something more enjoyable - a lottery ticket worth $2.5 million.

McCray, former publisher of the Gwinnett Daily Post, thought his wife's cries of "Oh no, Oh no" signaled a problem with pest control. But when she burst into the bathroom with a winning ticket - the largest instant game payout in state history - McCray knew his son wasn't the only one who had cleaned up.

"She's scared of spiders, so that's what I thought it was," McCray, a Dacula resident, said of his wife's screams. "Then she came into the bathroom and said: 'I think we just won $2.5 million.'"

McCray's wife asked him to verify, but wouldn't let him touch the winning "$300 Million Gold Rush" ticket with his wet hands. Once he dried off and examined the ticket closer, McCray joined the celebration.

"You don't ever think it will happen to you," he said. "This takes it to a surreal point. It's hard to believe I won $2.5 million when I played a card for $10."

McCray, now president of Auto Guide, said he bought the winning ticket at the Citgo station located on Ga. Highway 20. When he worked at the Daily Post, where his wife is the major accounts manager, he stopped off regularly to buy lottery tickets at that location, winning $5,000 on a scratch-off ticket last year.

With his new job he travels more and buys lottery tickets less frequently. But on Saturday he needed gas so he stopped and got tickets as well, buying 10.

Then the weekend got hectic and he forgot about them until Monday, when Janet scratched off the winning ticket.

After a sleepless night, the McCrays went to the local Georgia Lottery office on Tuesday to confirm their winning ticket. Then they got another surprise.

Part of the verification process includes a background check to make sure winners don't owe back taxes and so forth. During that process it was discovered the McCrays were owed a tax refund from 2003, a check that never got to them because of an address change.

McCray said he was told the prize - one of 10 $2.5 million tickets in the contest - would be paid off over 20 years, and Georgia Lottery spokesperson Tandi Reddick confirmed it is the state's largest instant game payout ever.