Woodstock man wins $10,000 iTunes contest

"Hello, Lou. This is Steve Jobs."

So began the Wednesday night phone conversation between Louie Sulcer of Woodstock and the high-tech wizard who co-founded Apple, the maker of computers and all things iPod.

Sulcer's end of the conversation went something like this:

"Sure it is. Aw, who is this really? C'mon."

The guy on the other end of Sulcer's line would not back off. It was Steve Jobs.


Sulcer, a 71-year-old country music fan with seven stents in his heart and artificial hip sockets, hit the Apple jackpot when he downloaded from iTunes a 1958 Johnny Cash song, "Guess Things Happen That Way."

It was the 10 billionth song downloaded from Apple's music site, and the company had been advertising that the lucky buyer of song No. 10 billion would win $10,000 in credit to be spent on songs, movies and apps.

What has Sulcer been lusting for from the purveyor of the largest entertainment Web site on the planet?

"I don't even know what all they have," Sulcer said.

His iPod Nano was a birthday gift from his children last October. Since then, he has bought about 100 songs from Apple to fill it.

Jobs congratulated him, thanked him for using Apple products and chatted a bit.

"He was real nice," Sulcer said. "I told him I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed iTunes and the iPod. I really enjoy country music.

"He asked me if I played the guitar, and I said, ‘Oh my goodness. That is my lifelong frustration.' "

Sulcer has been trying to learn the picking style of Luther Perkins, Cash's guitarist, but he has not had much luck.

"[Jobs] said he had been messing around a little with [the guitar], too," Sulcer said.

Sulcer did not bother to go on the Apple Web site to see what $10,000 can buy.

He called his daughter in Mississippi to tell her the news, and she asked him what he wanted.

"I said I don't even want to look right now," he said Thursday. "I just went to bed."

Later Thursday, after his doctor appointment, Sulcer was expecting calls from near and far. Apple public relations people have been calling him to ask whether he would consent to an interview with Rolling Stone, the rock magazine, and other publications.

"I said, ‘Rolling Stone is going to be so disappointed with this old man.' "

He did get a call he found a little more special.

"Rosanne Cash also called this morning to thank me for listening to Johnny Cash," Sulcer said.

She told Sulcer her father would have turned 78 on Friday. Then she had one more surprise for him: Her husband, musician John Leventhal, played the song he bought over the phone for him.

Guess things don't usually happen that way.

Staff photographer Curtis Compton contributed to this article.