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New York Lottery mints new LI million-dollar winners

New York Lottery Draw Team Member Gretchen Dizer,

New York Lottery Draw Team Member Gretchen Dizer, left, presents Robert Tripodi of Coram with his $1,000,000 ceremonial prize check at the New York Lottery Customer Service Center in Plainview Jan. 30, 2014. Credit: Barry Sloan

Robert Tripodi's Sunday routine is a morning stop at the gym and then to the nearby convenience store to buy lottery tickets.

When he did it Sunday, Nov. 24, he just didn't think a thing about it until about a month later.

That's when Tripodi, 72, an engineering consultant from Coram, realized he was a $1 million winner in the New York Lottery's Mega Millions game, according to a news release from the agency.

"I went to the gym and then went to the 7-Eleven to buy my tickets," said Tripodi, one of five recent $1-million winners introduced at a lottery news conference Thursday in Plainview.

"Then I put my ticket with all my other tickets to check later."

Soon after, he boarded a plane for a planned Florida vacation "and never thought twice" about his assortment of tickets until he returned home in December, the lottery said.

When he got back, he found the tickets in a stack of newspapers that had piled up during his vacation.

He found he had five numbers from the Nov. 26 drawing -- 27, 44, 59, 74, 75 -- but missed the Mega Ball, 3.

Tripodi said he remembered thinking to himself, "Oh Gee, look at that!"

He signed the ticket and put it in a safe-deposit box until he had a chance to claim it, on Dec. 20.

He plans to use the money to help his family. He also plans to use some for retirement "when the time comes," he said.

According to a release from the lottery, Tripodi's ticket -- purchased at the 7-Eleven at 3 Pond Path in East Setauket -- was one of 13 on a Missing Millionaires list released by the lottery in December. Since announcing the search, the agency says it has found eight winning tickets.

The lottery said in the release that the other winners introduced Thursday -- mostly from Long Island -- include 14 Members of Uniondale law firm.

"It's going to make life easier for a lot of people," said Debra Rubino of Farmingdale, who will share $1 million from the Sweet Million game with co-workers at Westerman, Ball, Ederer, Miller & Sharfstein LLC.

The group won on a quick-pick ticket in the Dec. 9 drawing.

Rubino purchased the winning ticket at the Accent Lobby Store at 260 Reckson Plaza in Uniondale. "I thought I was going to have a stroke," she said after checking the numbers and finding it was a winner.

"I checked 20 times to make sure it was the right date and numbers," Rubino said before she texted other group members with the news.

The group formed a partnership and will receive the $1 million in a lump sum of $661,800 after required withholdings.

Other group members are: Linda Cimino, Elmont; Joanne Connell, Huntington Station; Thomas Draghi, Farmingdale; Phyllis Halpern, Westbury; Bridget Griffin, Oceanside; Donna Hart, Massapequa Park; Paula Annette Henderson, Hempstead; Florence Jean-Joseph, Bellerose Manor, Queens; Suzanne Napoli-Zingalis, West Babylon; Gail Robinson, Whitestone, Queens; Philip Sharfstein, East Hills; Vincent Valletutti, Howard Beach, Queens; and John Westerman, Oyster Bay.

According the agency's release, winner Glenn Marrus, 63, of Plainview went out to buy lobster for a romantic New Year's Eve dinner with his wife when he stopped and by chance purchased a Break the Bank scratch-off ticket at Country Cove Stationery in Plainview.

The store he usually frequents ran out of his preferred instant ticket, so "when I was out that morning for a couple of lobsters, I stopped next door to see if they had any," said Marrus, a health care administrator.

Marrus, the father of one grown child, said he turned in a $10 Cashword winner and purchased a Break the Bank ticket and another $5 scratch-off game.

"I showed the clerk the ticket I wanted, but the display was about three feet above her head," he said. "I watched as she really struggled to reach it and then I told her to give me another ticket, any ticket because it wasn't worth the effort. She told me to wait and she would get the one I wanted, and she finally did. Her extra effort was key."

Marrus scratched his ticket in the store and instantly saw the match on the number 7 in the top and bottom portions of his ticket and the words "Jackpot - 1 Million" printed below.

"I was walking on air," said Marrus, who will get a lump-sum payment of $810,000, a net of $536,058, lottery officials said.

Another winner, East Hampton bookkeeper Cynthia Goode, 56, a frequent lottery scratch-off player, has no real system for choosing the games she plays, according to the lottery's news release.

"I chose the Million Dollar Numbers game because it just looked good at the time," she said after purchasing three tickets from the Whalebone General Store on Noyac Road in Sag Harbor during a work break on Jan. 14.

She took them back to her office to scratch and found she had won.

"I was kind of in shock, but I finished the day and went home and told my children," said the mother of two and grandmother of one.

Most of Goode's lump-sum payment of $780,000, net $516,204, will go directly into her savings account. "But when I win my second million, I'm going to buy a house and retire," she said.

Chiman "Frankie" Lam, 49, of New Hyde Park was on his way home from his sons' tennis lesson on Jan. 11 when he stopped at TGA USA at 570 Port Washington Blvd., in Port Washington, for gas and a couple of Powerball tickets for that night's drawing, the lottery's news release said.

Lam put the tickets into his overstuffed wallet and then didn't check them for more than a week. When he "decided to clean out my wallet of old receipts and lottery tickets" he discovered a Powerball second-prize ticket worth $1 million.

The work-from-home computer analyst said he was somewhat shocked when he won the $1 million, but also a little deflated that he came so close to winning the $80-million jackpot. He matched 10, 15, 33, 48, 54 but missed the Powerball, 34.

Lam will get a lump sum of $661,800 after required withholdings. He plans to use his prize to save for his retirement and his sons' college tuition.

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