NEW YORK – Carmello Mercado, a retired New York firefighter who lost his health due to his job as a 9/11 first responder, usually doesn’t play the lottery on Sundays. But he bought two tickets May 17 in Sunnyside, Queens.
According to ABC News, when he scratched them off, one of them turned out to be worth $5 million dollars.
“I got confused. My mind became blank,” Mercado said. “I had to verify it because it could have been a printing error. I went back to the store and I verified it with the machine and sure enough, it said ‘See New York state lottery officials,'” he told ABC News.
Mercado gets to keep about $3.3 million of the prize, and the first thing he intends to do with it is to pay off the mortgage as well as some other bills. But then, he wants the money to go to his 4 children and one grandchild, and may buy a house in Florida for them all to enjoy.
Lee Park, director of communications at the New York Gaming Commission, told ABC News in a statement today: “The New York Lottery is thrilled for all our winners, but we are especially heartened and delighted that one of New York’s Bravest who served at Ground Zero has brought home a well-deserved jackpot. We welcome Mr. Mercado to the New York Lottery family and wish and him all the best.”