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iTunes contest winner's surprise--a call from Jobs

When he got a personal call from Apple's head, Louie Sulcer, winner of iTunes' 10 Billionth Song Contest, thought it was a prank.

Johnny Cash's "Guess Things Happen That Way" was the 10 billionth song purchased from iTunes.
Screenshot by Dong Ngo/CNET

It's not every day you get a personal call from Steve Jobs, so it stands to reason that when you pick up the phone and Jobs is on the other end, you'd think you're being pranked.

That's exactly what Louie Sulcer, winner of iTunes' 10 Billionth Song Contest, thought when Jobs dialed him up to tell him the good news, according to a report from Rolling Stone.

Apparently, when Sulcer heard Jobs say, "This is Steve Jobs from Apple," he replied, "Yeah right! Come on now, who is this?" But when he saw the caller ID, which was simply "Apple," Sulcer he realized he was actually the winner of a $10,000 iTunes gift card. He later told Rolling Stone he had a son who loves playing tricks and thought he was the one making the Jobs call.

Despite the fact that songs by popular artists and bands such as Lady Gaga, Black Eyed Peas, or ColdPlay topped the popular purchases list for the duration of the contest, the winning song was Johnny Cash's "Guess Things Happen That Way." Sulcer was making a mix of Cash songs for his son when he purchased the tune that marked a milestone for iTunes as a music retail store.

The details of how Sulcer bought the song are interesting. He first listened to the 30-second preview, as he said he had never listened to the song, before actually buying it. It's hard to believe any Johnny Cash fan wouldn't already know the song, but if Sulcer did and skipped the preview, the timing would have been off, and the song wouldn't have netted him the big prize.

Sulcer said he recently got an iPod Nano as a gift, but it looks like he's going to need a bigger device for all the music he could get with the gift card.

It's unclear, however, if the gift card would give Sulcer credit to buy any hardware from Apple. With zero cash value, the iTunes gift card would take quite some time to be depleted just on music. It's also unclear if he'll have to pay tax on the prize and if paying tax with songs would be a violation of the digital rights management.