CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Robert Carter has been buying Powerball tickets for more than 30 years, and until this year, he had never won more than $7.
His diligence paid off on Aug. 2, when his wife, Helen, checked his Powerball ticket and discovered he’d won a million dollars.
“I called my daughter right away and I was panicking,” Helen Carter said. “You know how you check things once, twice, three times?”
“All of a sudden, the phone lights up with about a hundred calls from them,” Robert Carter said. He had been driving through a cellular dead zone on Interstate 79 on his way to visit his sister in Pennsylvania when Helen discovered her husband’s Powerball ticket had matched five of six winning numbers.
Robert called Helen back, and she broke the news. “Stop the car, get out of the car, don’t drive. You won the lottery.”
Robert and Helen Carter, of Poca, claimed their million-dollar prize with their daughter, Marlette, and an attorney during a ceremony at the West Virginia Lottery headquarters in Charleston Monday morning.
“Mr. Carter is the 12th person to win a million-dollar prize or more that results from the multi-state lottery games of Powerball and Mega Millions here in West Virginia for this calendar year,” said John Musgrave, director of the West Virginia Lottery. “We had five last year, and we thought that was great, but we’ve had 12 this year since the first of the year.”
Robert Carter, 65, is a retired Verizon employee of 30 years. Carter has 21 years of military service, including 11 years with the 130th Airlift Wing of the West Virginia Air National Guard in Charleston.
Robert and Helen Carter got married in 1974, and Robert said he started playing the Powerball in 1979. He said Helen had won an $800 lottery prize once in Maine, but he had never had much luck until he struck it big in August.
“I think I’ve broke even now,” Robert Carter joked. “I’ve been trying for quite a while to make some kind of dent.”
Robert said he was skeptical of the news at first. He was going to stay in Pennsylvania for a week, and even when he got back home, the ticket had been locked up in a safety deposit box. But his wife reassured him the ticket was real.
“I didn’t believe them at first,” Robert said. “I was like ‘Oh, yeah, right. Real cruel joke.’ But they were serious and I finally figured that out.”
Carter purchased the winning ticket at Go Mart No. 83 in Poca. Terry Smith, marketing director for Go Mart, accepted a $10,000 check on behalf of the convenience store during the ceremony Monday morning.
“We’ll definitely make sure some of the people at the store have the opportunity to afford a little bit,” Smith said. “We’re just tickled to death for Robert and his family.”
Musgrave said with 12 tickets sold in West Virginia this year worth more than a million dollars, West Virginia is one of the luckiest places in the United States to buy a lottery ticket right now…