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Catawba man wins $1 million

CATAWBA -- Ervin "Buggs" Daniel Ratterree Jr. dreamed about paying off his house and buying a car for his wife. That dream became possible this week when the 52-year-old Catawba man found himself $1 million richer.

Ratterree won his fortune Wednesday after he scratched off a $10 Cash Bonanza Riches lottery ticket, said Stephanie Hemminghaus of the S.C. Lottery Commission.

"I was shocked," Ratterree said. "I could see maybe $5,000 or $250,000, but $1 million? That's a dream come true."

A day later, Ratterree was humble about winning. His 19-year-old son, Jerry Sexton, said the winnings made it possible for his father to pay off the mortgage on the family's two-story home.

"He doesn't have to worry about it anymore," Sexton said.

Sexton's 11-year-old brother, Daniel Ratterree, took a copy of the ticket to school, beaming with pride for his father.

"He deserves it," Daniel said before promptly bursting into tears. The win, he said, means more quality time with his dad.

Buying a lottery ticket is a daily tradition, Ratterree said.

"Cash Bonanza Riches is my favorite game," said Ratterree, the owner of Rock Hill-based Quick Signs. "I've always had luck on it."

Ratterree had a co-worker pick up two scratch-off tickets Wednesday from Lesslie Food Shop in Rock Hill. Both tickets sat unscratched for nearly 30 minutes while Ratterree put the finishing touches on a sign.

He scratched the numbers off the top card. "I was hoping I'd at least get my money back," Ratterree quipped.

Then he scratched off the blocks that showed each prize.

"I thought my contacts messed up," he said. When I got up, I couldn't hardly move. My legs were numb."

Then Ratterree called his wife, Tammy.

"He was screaming and crying," Tammy recalled. " I thought he had a car wreck. He said, 'You ain't going to believe it. I just hit this scratch card for $1 million.'"

Ratterree's wife of 15 years celebrated her 39th birthday Monday -- Dec. 10 -- the same number Ratterree scratched for his winning purse.

When he rode to Columbia to pick up his winnings, he "'bout had a heart attack" when the lottery commission representative confirmed his win.

Ratterree scratched the second ticket later that day. "Didn't win nothing," he said with a sheepish smile.

But some things don't change. On Thursday, he made a pit stop to buy two lottery tickets, but he didn't win. He stopped again after work.

"I bought the same ticket and won $150," he said.

Today, Ratterree will start looking for a white BMW with a sun roof for his wife. He also plans to give money to his church, but don't look for him to retire.

"I got stuff to do and commitments to people," he said. "I always worked 70 to 80 hours a week. I know I don't have to now, but I still will."

More than 48 hours after redeeming the winning ticket, the Ratterrees are still a bundle of nerves, Tammy Ratterree said.

"Stuff like this doesn't happen every day," she said. "It's a miracle."

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