Larry Kendrick of Biloxi stepped off an airplane Sunday in Atlanta to a big surprise: a red carpet laid out in his honor and a crowd taking pictures of him as the airport's 100 millionth passenger of the year.
He had flown in from Gulfport to catch a connecting flight to Chicago when he suddenly realized all eyes were on him -- all eyes nearby and, by the way, those watching via Twitter and a live satellite feed on Facebook.
Then he learned he had won a Nissan Altima, a $500 gift card, a set of wireless headphones, and two first-class, round-trip tickets to anywhere in the world via Delta One.
"He was excited," said Reese McCranie, a spokesman for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
"I think he was a bit surprised as well, but he was a good sport for it," McCranie said. "He certainly was intrigued with all the attention coming his way."
Kendrick had departed from Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport.
The Atlanta airport began tweeting about the event around 6:30 a.m., saying the plane carrying the 100 millionth passenger would soon arrive and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed was already there to greet the lucky flier. One tweet showed the red carpet waiting for the winner.
Waiting for 100 m pic.twitter.com/3riH44nsKq— Atlanta Airport (@ATLairport) December 27, 2015
About 7:30 a.m., the airport tweeted: "The aircraft -- from Gulfport, Mississippi -- carrying our 100m passenger has landed."
A water cannon sounded as the plane touched down.
Kendrick, wearing a New Orleans Saints ball cap, exited his plane and walked onto the concourse underneath a large ticker that counted him as the 100 millionth passenger.
The airport had been promoting the expected milestone on its website by asking passengers to share their favorite flight of the year.
"It is important to recognize such a global aviation milestone for the first time in the history of any one airport," McCranie said.
"It was a fitting celebration for something of this historic nature."