Lotto winner Marvin Martinez snagged a $1 million winning ticket off the ground in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, but was just awarded his money Friday. The New York man, originally from El Salvador, was encouraged to throw the ticket away by others, but kept it and is now significantly richer for it.
Lotto winner Marvin Rosales-Martinez was landscaping in Long Island, N.Y. when he spied the ticket on the ground.
"I saw a ticket rolling with a bunch of leaves," the Spanish-speaking Martinez told the New York Daily News through a translator. "It was all wet, and I took it home and dried it."
27-year-old Martinez, who lives with his mother in a storm-damaged home, showed her the ticket, and she suggested he throw it away. He set out to try to claim the winnings instead, bringing it to a 7 Eleven, but they could not confirm it, he told CNN. A month later he tried again at the Long Island Customer Service Center, and officials told him he won the $1 million prize.
"When I found out I had won, I felt very lucky. I felt very happy," he said.
"I said 'Oh my God!' when I found out that he won. I didn't believe it," Maria Martinez, his mother, told the NY Daily News. "He told me, 'I've been working for 20 years in this country and I've never found even $100- let alone a million.'"
However, Martinez still had to wait some time for the money because the lottery office had to launch a long investigation to make sure no one came forward and claimed the lost ticket.
"In instances such as these, its standard practice for the lottery to require a one-year waiting period before awarding the prize in case anyone else comes forward," lottery spokesman Lee Park told CNN.
Martinez opted for the lump sum payment of $779,106, which comes to $515,612 after taxes. He was one of four New Yorkers to claim $1 million prizes for that scratch-off.
The landscaper still plans on working six days a week.