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Suffolk man's last $20 brings back $5M lottery prize

James and Suanne Kazanecki are introduced as $5

James and Suanne Kazanecki are introduced as $5 million lottery winners in Garden City. (July 14, 2010) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Using his gut instincts and the last $20 left in his wallet, Mastic Beach resident James Kazanecki bought and scratched off a $5 million lottery ticket - his third and by far biggest high-dollar winning ticket in the past 20 years.

Kazanecki, 57, said he had previously won $1,000 on a $1 ticket and $10,000 on a $2 ticket before spending $20 to buy the $5 million scratch-off ticket July Fourth.

"I don't usually like to spend that kind of money on a single ticket, but I guess I was in the holiday spirit," Kazanecki said.

He said this was his third time playing the $500,000,000 Extravaganza game. "I just had a feeling. It was my last $20 and I gave it a shot. It paid off."

After spending a full morning running errands for the holiday, Kazanecki walked into Soft & Box Smoke Shop on Montauk Highway in Mastic to take a break and test his luck.

The retired Verizon cable splicer scratched off his ticket on the counter of the smoke shop, and couldn't believe what he saw, he said. "I was so happy. I was shaking like a leaf. I just couldn't believe it," he said.

A clerk at the smoke shop asked Kazanecki if she could hold the winning ticket. He said no.

Kazanecki raced back home to break the news to his wife of 30 years, Suanne, who said she remained in disbelief until the ticket was verified on July 6.

The Brooklyn-born Kazanecki is the fifth lottery winner on Long Island to receive $5 million or more in 2010. He will receive his winnings in $250,000 payments a year through 2029. His annual net amount will total $165,075, officials from the New York Lottery said.

"Life will continue as usual. I don't expect any major life changes," he said.

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