With destruction from Superstorm Sandy destruction all around him, landscaper Marvin Rosales Martinez caught a glimpse of an object that didn’t seem to belong among the pile of leaves he was clearing.
His mom, Maria Martinez, told the New York Daily News that she suggested he toss the ticket, but the 27-year-old resident of Hicksville on Long Island decided to ride out his you-never-know moment back in October 2012.
“Whoever threw it away probably didn’t realize there was a prize,” he told the Post, adding that he dried the ticket underneath a lamp.
According to a New York Lottery statement, he then brought the ticket to a 7-Eleven.
But the store couldn’t scan it, according to WCBS-TV in New York, adding that workers at the convenience store detected that the ticket was valuable and instructed Rosales Martinez — who needed an English interpreter on camera — to take it to lottery officials.
It wasn’t until November 9, 2012 when Rosales Martinez brought the ticket to the lottery’s Long Island Customer Service Center where officials conducted a “standard and thorough internal security investigation” to ensure the validity and ownership of the ticket, CNN reported.
More than a year later, officials confirmed Friday that it was one of five winning tickets, CNN added.
Rosales Martinez opted to receive his jackpot prize as a one-time lump sum payment, CNN noted, and will receive a payment of $779,106, netting him $515,612 after required tax withholdings, according to the release.
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“This won’t change the way I live my life,” he said. “I’m still going to keep working six days a week.”
Martinez, who came to America from El Salvador six years ago, plans to send money back home, buy a house for him and his wife, help his mother pay off Sandy repairs “and maybe switch jobs and become a truck driver.”
“My wife and I didn’t go on a honeymoon, so maybe we’ll take a trip to Miami or something,” he said. “I want to keep living a normal life. This won’t change us.”
Here’s a report from WCBS: