EW talks to the Georgia grandfather who bought the 10 billionth song on itunes: 'I've never won anything!'

When iTunes officially sold its 10 billionth download yesterday, it wasn’t to a 14-year-old girl pinging Ke$ha tracks from her MacBook Pro to her third-gen iPhone 3G in geometry class.

The lucky recipient of a $10,000 iTunes Gift Card (and a whole lot of press) is 71-year-old Louie Sulcer of Woodstock, Georgia—a retired real estate agent, onetime Navy radar operator, and grandfather of nine who just wanted Johnny Cash’s 1958 single “Guess Things Happen That Way” for his new Nano, a birthday gift from his children. And he bought it on a PC: “I do not own a Mac, no,” he chuckles. “I knew somebody was going to ask me that question.”

Sulcer has spent the last day fielding calls from, among others, Apple head Steve Jobs (“I thought it was my son, he’s always a joker. I kept saying, ‘Come on, Kevin, I know it’s you!”)  and Cash’s daughter Rosanne (“she had her husband, who is her guitarist, play the song to me over the phone. That was real nice.”).

He has been a devoted Johnny Cash fan for most of his life, he says: “I went to Georgia Tech on a football scholarship, broke just about every bone in my body. All those boys on the team, we just loved country music… My whole life, I had never understood why people go see movies twice, but I’ve seen [Cash biopic] Walk the Line four times. My kids finally bought me the DVD. And I was pretty sure I had all of his music, but I was just checking iTunes, listening to those little 20 or 30 second clips, and I found this one. It has some good pickin’ in it!”

For a guy with fewer than 1,000 songs in his iTunes library, $10,000 is a lot to of iBucks spend. Will he be sharing the prize? “I’m gonna give my daughter’s husband some of it. I feel very fortunate and lucky. I never won anything. But to be 71 is lucky enough! I got my kids and my grandkids, it’s almost spring and the fish are coming in. I’m in great shape and just enjoying life.”

Hear the song that started it all below, and click here for a full list of iTunes’ all-time top songs:

More from EW.com’s Music Mix:
Black Eyed Peas bring that boom boom pow to NYC’s Madison Square Garden
Thom Yorke names new band (oddly), announces tour dates
‘Hot Tub Time Machine’ soundtrack details
Sade fends off Lady Antebellum to rule the albums chart again
Kanye West weathers the “Coldest Winter”: Watch his chilly new video
Devo plays the Winter Olympics! Mark Mothersbaugh talks about tonight’s Vancouver show—and the band’s first new album in 20 years

Comments (14 total) Add your comment
  • Liz

    This is an awesome story and a great song.

  • H

    Very cool.

  • Machunny

    Nice piece–thanks.

  • ewreu

    That’s awesome.

  • Levente

    Honestly, I think this works out even better for Apple that it wasn’t your typical high-tech tween buying music from a current artist. Did they plan this??

    • mario

      it certainly sounded staged but, still felt endearing.

  • Jen

    Aw that’s a great story!

  • Reese

    I love this story. Love it.

  • Lane

    Really nice story .:-)

  • duffy

    aww this is so cute! now they just need to make it into a uplifting commercial with morgan freeman narrating!

  • Doug

    How can this guy call himself a Cash fan and not already have this song??!!

    just kidding, thats the best thing about itunes, I’m always finding music by my favorite artists that I never even knew existed. Rock on, Louie, rock on.

  • ks


  • Jenn

    Good for him!

  • Liz

    What a great story! And no better artist than Johnny Cash to sell the 10 billionth download.

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