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New York Lottery gives out $24 million in winnings

Luis and Patricia Almaraz, of Islandia, accept an

Luis and Patricia Almaraz, of Islandia, accept an oversized check replica from NY Lotto celebrity Yolanda Vega on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016, for their winnings in a scratch-off game. The couple joined four other lottery winners in Jamaica, Queens. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

On realizing he had just bought the top prize ticket in a new lottery scratch-off game, Luis Almaraz did what any $5 million winner might do.

“I brought the ticket to my car,” he told the New York Lottery through an interpreter. “I was so in shock I started crying.”

Almaraz and his wife, Patricia, who live in Islandia and are splitting the prize money, joined four other lottery winners at a presentation Wednesday in Jamaica, Queens, where ceremonial checks representing $24 million were given out.

Almaraz, who works in auto sales, said that sticking to his daily routine was at the root of this big win. “Every day I go to 7-Eleven and buy sandwiches for my sons, some coffee and scratch-off tickets,” he told the lottery, referring to the 7-Eleven on Old Nichols Road in Islandia, where he bought the winning ticket for the new Wild Bonanza Multiplier scratch-off game.

On hearing the news, his wife said, “I couldn’t believe what they were telling me” and that “I, too, was in shock.”

With each to receive a check of $1,654,500 after required withholdings, the couple say they have no immediate plans for the money, but will be taking care of their family.

Hard to believe

A scenic artist in Brooklyn, Darius Menard was just a bit skeptical when he scratched his $10,000 a Week for Life ticket, bought at the Pizza & Deli on Manhattan Avenue in Brooklyn.

When he saw “Big Winner,” he said, “I immediately left the store and took it to another store to see if I got the same result.”

Once he got that verification from the clerk, he says, “I knew it was real.”

He won the guaranteed top prize of $10 million, which translates to one lump sum of $5,330,980 after required withholdings, the lottery said.

Menard says he feels “very lucky” and that “I can’t believe this happened to me.”

He said he would help out his family and make some investments, and as for other plans, he would just “go from there.”

New plans for early retirement

In the case of Melodie Donovan, the Brooklyn resident said she “almost fainted” in the store, after realizing she was a $7 million New York Millions scratch-off winner.

“I was just overwhelmed with emotions,” said Donovan, who had spent 26 years as an administrator for a group of lawyers.

After calming down a bit, “one of my first thoughts when I won was now I can retire a little earlier than planned,” she said.

With the lump sum payment of $4,361,280, after required withholdings, she said she plans also to travel and help out her family.

She bought the winning ticket at News & Tobacco on Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn.

“I still can’t believe it’s real,” she said.

Double the luck

Beverly Campbell, an avid Powerball player from Jamaica, Queens, said she “was in for the shock of a lifetime” when she brought what she thought was a $200,000 winning ticket to the Manhattan Lottery office.

It was actually for $2 million. It would have been for just $1 million, but Campbell had paid the extra dollar for Power Play, which ended up doubling her second prize winnings. Her ticket came from M&N Smoke & Cards on East 28th Street in Manhattan.

With “oh my gosh” still often on her mind, she said, “I’m looking forward to retirement later this year and traveling with my mother.” Helping her family and donating some of her winnings are also in her plans.

Campbell’s lump sum payment is $1,246,080 after required withholdings, the lottery said.


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