A chef, a hotel worker and a maintenance man were big winners Thursday in Manhattan, walking away with oversized checks adding up to $15 million in New York Lottery winnings.
Manuel Moreira, a hotel union worker from Briarwood, Queens, claimed the top $7 million prize in the Aug. 17 Cash4Life drawing, according to a Lottery news release.
A regular Cash4Life player, Moreira picks his numbers by combining his and his family's birth dates.
When he checked the Lottery's website following the drawing, he said, "I didn't believe what I was seeing. I was in a panic. I woke up my wife, and she saw how panicked I was and thought someone had broken into our house."
Reality set in when he visited the Lottery's customer service center and the ticket was verified, said Moreira, who opted for a one-time lump-sum payment of $4,361,280 net.
"This really is a dream come true," he said. He said he plans to use the money to care for his family.
Rixue Chen, chef at a family-run Chinese restaurant, claimed the Set For Life scratch-off game's top prize of $5,000 a week for life.
"I was destined to be lucky," Chen, of Brooklyn, said of his win. "Destiny is the only word that comes to mind."
Chen, who said he moved to New York from China 10 years ago "to make money," is opting for a one-time lump-sum payment of $4,059,100 before taxes, netting him $2,528,981, the lottery said.
His plans include to "live out the American dream by buying a house, a car and doing some traveling."
That could include an upgraded honeymoon for after his marriage Sept. 26.
Henry Caban, a maintenance worker from the Bronx, received top prize of $3 million in the Instant Millionaire scratch-off game.
On a work break, he went out to buy tickets, which he brought back to his workplace locker room to scratch.
"I didn't win anything on the first, so I got to scratching the second and saw a match," he said. "I got a magnifying glass and called my buddy over because I thought something was wrong. I thought, 'this can't be.' "
His 35-year old daughter Bianca says her father told her, "I don't know how to tell you this," and after that, "I don't remember anything."
Opting for a one-time lump sum of $2,360,000 before taxes, for a net of $1,470,374, Caban plans to use the winnings to take care of his daughter and grandchildren.