Cashier: Lottery winner thought scanner was mistaken

A customer came into the JackSpot convenience store A customer came into the JackSpot convenience store in Shirley with a winning $20 million ticket to the MegaMillions lottery game. Store co-owner Stephen McDonald is behind the counter on Thursday, April 3, 2014. Photo Credit: Newsday / Chuck Fadely

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A lottery player scanned his tickets at a Shirley convenience store called JackSpot! and when the screen flashed "BIG WINNER," he told the cashier, "The machine is broken."

But it wasn't -- he was holding the $20-million Mega Millions ticket, the mystery jackpot winner sought by the New York State Lottery since the March 25 drawing, said convenience store co-owner Howie Frank and cashier Laura Marckesano.

"He's not catching what I'm saying," said Marckesano, who scanned the ticket twice. "So I smacked his shoulder -- 'You won $20 million dollars!' That kind of woke him up."

Lottery spokeswoman Christy Calicchia said the ticket holders put in a claim for the prize Wednesday but she declined to provide a name, citing an upcoming news conference.

The ticket, bought at the Gascon gas station in Coram, should have 19, 26, 51, 57, 73 and the Mega Ball number 15.

Calicchia said the winner has two payout options: a pretax lump sum of $11.1 million or the $20-million annuity.

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Frank said the winner will go public after full discussions with legal and financial experts.

He is a 48-year-old orderly at Southampton Hospital, the store co-owner said. "He said he likes his job and he's going to keep his job," Frank said, adding with a laugh, "We'll see."

He's also a regular breakfast patron who lives nearby, and Thursday last week, his usual coffee and buttered roll were served with the jackpot news and happy tears -- his and Marckesano's. At first, he stared up, looked down and was silent before the euphoria set in, the cashier said.

Store surveillance video shows the winner clasping his forehead with both hands several times, pacing and snapping a photo of the winning ticket with his cellphone to send to someone.

"We were jumping up and down," Marckesano said. "He gave me a big bear hug. . . . Five or ten minutes of my life with him -- it was like a dream."

When Marckesano called Frank to tell him to rush over because a customer won $20 million, he replied, "$20,000?"

When the lottery player called his wife, it took not just Marckesano but two customers to convince her it was no joke.

"She said to me he never checks his tickets but he plays all the time," Marckesano said. "He had a pocket full of tickets."

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When Frank arrived, about 25 customers were buzzing around the winner, he said: "They just wanted to be near a millionaire, I guess."

Later, the Mega Millions player said he wanted a new Dodge Ram truck because his had been totaled last year.

As he left JackSpot!, which focuses on lottery games and has a "scratch-off lounge," Marckesano rushed after him.

"I wanted to make sure he was OK to drive," she said. "He said he was OK. He said 'I'm not going to change. I'm not going to change. This is not going to change my life.' "

With Gary Dymski

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