Andrew Noble of Oceanside had been receiving New York Lottery scratch-off tickets in his birthday cards for 18 years. He had won $40 once before but never fathomed winning 25,000 times that -- this year, on his 36th birthday.
Noble rushed to the store where his mother purchased the ticket, Rip's Cards & Things in Oceanside, to confirm the win. "I didn't believe it was for real," he said, until the lottery terminal began its trumpeting fanfare.
He had become a millionaire.
Noble raced home and hid the ticket inside his "Here Come the Warm Jets" album cover -- Brian Eno's debut vinyl and Noble's luckiest possession.
Noble is one of four Nassau County residents to win $1 million from lottery games, and New York's first to win a top prize from the scratch-off game Million Dollar Winner. The four received ceremonial checks Thursday.
Gretchen Dizer, a New York Lottery draw team member, presented the ceremonial checks Thursday at the Lottery's Customer Service Center in Plainview.
"My favorite part of this job is to watch someone go from complete disbelief to actually coming up with some cool ideas on how to use the money," Dizer said.Noble admitted the oversized check felt overwhelming.
"I'm going to invest and try to be responsible, which I haven't always been the best at," said Noble. "Other than that, I'm going on a trip to California."
Noble chose to collect the full amount in 20 annual payments of $33,090, after taxes. The other winners will collect lump sums, or wire transfers of the total earnings after tax deductions.
Gerard Miele, 62, of Hempstead returned from his honeymoon when he purchased a ticket for the Powerball drawing on a routine stop for cigarettes. The following day, Miele and his wife, Abigail, went back to the smoke shop and saw a $1 million winner announcement.
"That could be you," Abigail said. It was. He plans to save for early retirement.
"Ten or 20 years ago I could have been able to retire," Miele said. "Today it's breathing room." Other winners included avid sports fan Michael Fuchs of Island Park, who said he can now afford to take his daughters to Yankees and Rangers games; and Marcela Olvina, 59, of Floral Park, who won $1 million from a scratch-off game.
Noble said his mother plans to continue putting lottery tickets in family birthday cards. Fuchs vowed to continue playing the lottery, just in case he can beat what the Business Insider website calculated to be a 1 in 14.9 quadrillion odds of winning Mega Millions twice.