˛million' and sat there and trembled," the 45-year-old Thomson man said Thursday night. "I started shaking and shook my head."
And then his friends and family didn't believe him.
"He's always cutting the fool," said first cousin Rodney Kendrick, who was at Willie Kendrick's Salem Road home Thursday night as part of an impromptu celebration.
Sgt. 1st Class Kendrick's wife, Shiely, said she was skeptical too at first.
"I knew he was telling the truth when he swore to God," she told The McDuffie Mirror. "That's how we tell each other we are being honest."
Sgt. 1st Class Kendrick purchased 30 of the tickets Thursday morning at the Chevron Mini Mart on Milledgeville Road in Harlem. He and his wife scratched the rest of the tickets and won an additional $140, he said.
By 11 a.m. Thursday, Sgt. 1st Class KenČ-drick and his wife, Shiely, were headed up Interstate 20 to the Georgia Lottery offices in Atlanta to claim their winnings.
He said he'll collect the money over a 20-year period at $50,000 annually and pay $15,500 in taxes each year on that amount. Thursday night, he had his first $34,500 check in hand.
And he's already got plans for the money. There's the new car for his wife, the land that needs to be paid off, his family's future, his 82-year-old mother. And he also plans to purchase padding for pews at Cody Grove Baptist Church in Warrenton, where he's a member.
Felicia Kane, his 27-year-old daughter, said the winnings were "truly a blessing."
Sgt. 1st Class Kendrick is stationed with a regimental signal battalion at Fort Gordon and has been in the Army for 23 years. He took leave Thursday and Friday, but returned to work Monday.
"I don't plan to quit my job," he said. "I love the Army."
The Georgia Lottery Corp. says the odds of winning $1 million in the scratch-off game are 1 in 1.7 million.
Morris News Service Writer Jeremy Craig contributed to this report.