A Long Island hospital orderly was so unnerved at winning a lottery jackpot that he "slept" with the ticket -- a $20 million Mega Millions slip of paper.
"I went to the bank to put it in a safe-deposit box -- after I slept with it for two days," Cameron Finney, 48, who works at Southampton Hospital, told reporters Thursday at the New York Lottery's Plainview center.
Finney, 48, of Mastic, his wife, Donna, and daughter Christina claimed the prize from the March 25 drawing, more than $7.4 million after the state's cut and required withholdings.
He bought the ticket on impulse the evening of the drawing, on the Finneys' regular Tuesday date night.
The ticket machine at the store he went to first was broken, so he went to the Gascon gas station in Coram to buy $4 in games.
The next day, a surveillance camera at the Shirley convenience store JackSpot! captured Finney clutching his head after scanning a wad of lottery tickets and seeing the words "BIG WINNER." That was for the numbers 19, 26, 51, 57, 73 and the Mega Ball of 15.
"I thought the machine was broken," Finney recounted.
His wife also was in disbelief when he called her.
"Quit playing," Donna Finney had said, thinking it was yet another spousal prank.
Even after he put a store customer on the phone, she thought he might have paid someone to say he won big.
After all, she said, he doesn't check the tickets he buys. "They can be in the drawer for months at a time," said Donna Finney, who'll stay on as an executive specialist at Cablevision, Newsday's parent company.
But reality has finally sunk in. He can quit as an orderly -- he'll do that next week. He can buy his wife a big gift -- a new house they'll get built in East Quogue. He can buy a new car -- a Dodge Ram to replace the one that was totaled a year ago during one of their Tuesday nights out. He can help charities, including St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, because his "heart breaks" for the children every time he sees the television commercial.
Since word got out of his new financial status, he said, his phone has rung constantly.
"Before I won, nobody called," Finney said.
He said he isn't in the market for new friends: "Just my five friends and that's it."
Finney describes himself as low key, a churchgoer and owner of a cleaning business that he hopes to expand.
He's unwilling to buy his dream Bentley, a Dodge Ram and build a new home all at the same time. "I'm going to go slow," he said.
The dark side of money has taken a toll, Donna Finney said: "He's been waking up in the middle of the night saying 'I'm not going to change.' "
The new millionaire has seen plenty of stories about lottery winners wasting their money.
"I kept telling people that's not going to be my story," Finney said. "It's going to last until I'm gone."