Two people in the Tri-State area won big this month in the New York State and New Jersey Lottery.
The New York Post reports that a Harriman, New York resident won a $5 million jackpot from a New York Lottery scratch-off ticket. Carmelo Mercado, 63, bought two tickets earlier this month, the latter of which won the multi-million dollar prize.
What makes his win more amazing is the fact that Mercado is a retired New York City firefighter who was forced to retire due to health issues related to the WTC attacks on 9/11. Mercado was one of the first responders at Ground Zero that day, and eventually developed lung ailments due to his tireless work. The ailments forced him to retire and rely on benefits provided by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which offers healthcare and pension benefits to first responders on 9/11.
Mercado already receives an annual $91,000 pension but the $20 “Cash X 100” ticket he purchased will give him $3.3 million after taxes in a lump sum lottery payout.
The father of four children, including a 10-year-old daughter, is humbled but invigorated by the news, especially after all he had to go through after the fateful September morning.
“After 9/11 sometimes you just have to be reckless; you never know,” Mercado said.
Meanwhile, in neighboring New Jersey, an unidentified ticket purchaser won a $890,682 jackpot from the state’s Jersey Cash 5 game. According to App.com, a Monmouth County ticket purchased in a 7-Eleven matched all five numbers from the drawing on July 12th.
State lottery officials are looking for the winner.
“We are pleased that the winning jackpot ticket was sold at 7-Eleven,” said New Jersey Lottery Executive Director Carole Hedinger. “For selling this ticket, the retailer will receive a bonus check for $2,000. Overnight, it has become one more ‘lucky location’ for the very fortunate lottery winner.”