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Commack lottery winner: I hid $1M ticket under mattress

Maria Matthews Sanders, of Commack, holds her facsimile

Maria Matthews Sanders, of Commack, holds her facsimile lottery check. With her are New York Lottery representatives Jenny Garcia, left, and host Yolanda Vega at the New York Lottery offices in lower Manhattan after it was announced she won $1 million. (Feb. 22, 2013) Credit: Craig Ruttle

A bored Maria Matthews Sanders was waiting in a grocery store deli line when she struck it rich.

Sanders, a Commack mother of two who has been on disability for more than a decade, won $1 million playing an instant scratch-off lottery game on Super Bowl weekend.

She was among several large-prize winners announced Friday by the New York Lottery in Garden City.

"I feel great, very, very blessed. I plan to spend the money conservatively," said Sanders, 48, who has undergone several back and neck surgeries in the past decade to repair "a bad spine." Though she has a metal plate in her neck and back, her newfound fortune has brightened her up.

"My children won't have a problem going to college," she said, referring to her daughter, Marissa, 18, and son, Michael, 15. "And I need to give back a little bit to charity."

Sanders also vowed to vacation in Italy, a dream destination. "I always wanted to go, hopefully in the next six months."

Preparing for the Super Bowl, she was buying sodas, hamburgers and chips at a Stop & Shop in East Northport on Jan. 20 when she purchased the lottery ticket and discovered she'd won. "I turned around and left my cart right there," she said.

She went home and hid the winning ticket under her mattress because the Garden City lotto headquarters was closed until Tuesday. She said she couldn't sleep for two days.

Her second prize in the $5 million Multiplier game will be paid in a lump sum, the lottery said Friday, and she will receive a one-time payment of $661,800 after required withholdings.

Overall, the nine winners announced Friday shared $13 million, the lottery said.

With Gary Dymski

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