A lucky Lotto winner found his ticket while raking leaves after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
27-year-old Marvin Martinez told the New York Post about how he and a co-worker were cleaning up leaves in Long Island following Hurricane Sandy. His colleague was using a leaf blower to make the job go faster, and Martinez was collecting the leaves when the lucky lotto winner spotted the ticket.
Martinez still doesn’t know what made him pick up the wet piece of paper that would change his life back in November of 2012.
“This was someone else’s luck, but my ticket! My co-worker was blowing the leaves and I was collecting them when I saw the ticket hiding between wet leaves. I still don’t know what made me pick it up.”
The Lotto winner noticed the “Win $1,000 a Week for Life” scratch card had all matching numbers and ran to tell his mother –who lived with him– the good news.
At first, mom didn’t believe he was a Lotto winner:
“I took it home and showed it to my mom but she didn’t believe it.” And because the stub was so wet that they could barely read it, “I left it to dry underneath a lamp,” Martinez told the Post.
Once they were able to clearly see the numbers, the Lotto winner tried to verify the ticket with the New York Lottery customer service center on Long Island, but they were out of power following the hurricane.
After the office reopened, the Martinez went back and explained how he found the ticket:
“They asked me a lot of questions and said they would have to investigate. I forgot about it,” Martinez said.
Three weeks ago, the Lotto winner received a call from Lottery officials that wanted to meet with him.
A spokesperson for the New York State Gaming Commission explained:
“A standard and thorough internal security investigation found no reason to believe that the ticket wasn’t rightfully the property of Mr. Martinez. There was no report of theft or of a ticket being misplaced. In instances such as these, it’s standard practice for the Lottery to require a one-year waiting period before awarding the prize in case anyone else comes forward.”
Luckily for Martinez, nobody came forward to claim the winning ticket and now it is all his own.
The lucky Lotto winner was announced at a press conference last Friday, at which time he revealed that he got married last month, but didn’t tell his wife of his good fortune. She is in shock.
Martinez elected to take a lump-sum payment of $779,106, which after taxes is still a significant $515,612.
Martinez, who is an immigrant of El Salvador, says this won’t change his life, and he will continue to work six days a week, buy a house, and help his mother who is still dealing with Sandy repairs.
The Lotto winner and his new wife didn’t go on a honeymoon “so maybe we’ll take a trip to Miami or something,” Martinez said. “I want to keep living a normal life. This won’t change us.”