Eliyahu Cohen was on his way home on May 13, Mother's Day, when he stopped at a convenience store on Sunrise Highway in Oakdale. His plan was to get some cash from an ATM so he could take his wife of 44 years to dinner, to treat her on a special occasion.
Then he spotted a $5 instant lottery ticket and figured, why not?
"I could not believe my eyes," Cohen, 73, of East Patchogue recalled Tuesday before he was presented his winnings, a $1-million paid out over 20 years, courtesy of a Million Dollar Scratch instant ticket. "My wife could not believe it either."
Cohen will receive about $33,000 annually for 20 years, after federal and state taxes, according to the New York Lottery, which was awarding $8 million in ceremonial checks Tuesday to recent winners from Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island.
Cohen, a retired owner of a limousine service, said he's not quite sure what he'll do with his winnings. His wife, Judith, a nurse in Manhattan, plans on joining him soon in retirement, he said.
"Yeah, yeah," he said. "Retirement. She's happy, and maybe next year she will retire. This will be for retirement. After that, I am not sure."
Cohen said he also will help his son, a soldier who was injured in Iraq.
The prizes were being announced officially at a Brooklyn convenience store where a high school student recently won on the lottery's Win $1,000 a Week for Life instant game.