For more than 30 years, Gilbert "Steve" Proctor has installed telephone cable.
The Edgecombe County resident said he is not quitting his job at Lambert's Cable Splicing Co. any time soon after hitting the North Carolina lottery's first winning "Lifetime Riches" scratch-off ticket, which pays out $50,000 a year for life.
"I'll always be the same person," he said as he sat in the convenience store on Thursday where lottery officials recognized his win.
On Monday, Proctor bought the ticket at the EP Mart at 1800 Benvenue Road.
That day, he and his son were installing telephone cable in a nearby subdivision. After his son complained about how much hand digging the job involved, Proctor recommended they take a break. They stopped at the nearby convenience store to cool down and get a drink. On a whim, Proctor plopped down $20 for two scratch offs of the game that kicked off Feb. 24.
He hit the first of the six grand prize winners, overcoming odds of 1 in 1.26 million.
Proctor said he's already received his first payment of $34,230, which is the yearly payment after taxes are taken out he will receive each March for the rest of his life. The payout is for a minimum of 20 years. Proctor, 49, can pass along his lottery earnings to a beneficiary who would receive the remainder of his payout if he does not live for 20 years.
In this tough economy, the lottery winnings are enough to put his mind at ease about financial issues, Proctor said, but not enough to make him quit his job.
"It's just a great supplement to my retirement," he said. "Thank God. It's a blessing I won it. I give the Lord the credit. I'll continue to work with less worry."
Oddly enough, he said, he won $100 dollars on the same scratch-off game before he hit the jackpot, and another $100 yesterday playing the same game. The odds of hitting a $100 payout are about 1 in 139.
Proctor's friends who attended the ceremony on Friday said the win could not have happened to a better person.
"He'd give you the shirt off his back if you needed it," said Eula Smith, who has known him for 35 years.
Proctor's boss, Tommy Lambert, said he was pleased that Proctor is staying on his job as foreman for the company, which is a master contractor for Embarq.
"You've got to know Steve. He'll work harder than ever (despite winning the lottery)," he said. "Steve truly is a remarkable guy. He's been a dedicated employee for 30 years."
Rebecca Lewis, a district manager for Eastern Petroleum that supervises the convenience store, predicted a spike in lottery sales in the wake of the win.
N.C. Education Lottery Executive Director Tom Shaheen said Proctor is not alone in staying employed after hitting the winning numbers. He said players who win jackpots in the hundreds of millions might be inclined to retire, but not those earning between $500,000 to $2 million.
"They'll tell you this provides a nice (economic) comfort level," Shaheen said.
A Nash County woman is a finalist for the $130 Million Blockbuster grand prize, which awards $50,000 a year for life.
Melany Pipkin of Whitakers entered two tickets into the March 10 preliminary drawing and said she was shocked to hear she'd been named a finalist.
Gilbert Proctor, right center, holds the check he received with his wife Kathy Proctor on Thursday at the EP Mart on Benvenue Road.