NANUET — Seema Dhimmer stops by her parents' convenience store almost every day after work but her decision to visit them on Sept. 15 has made her rich.
The 26-year-old physical therapist from Nanuet won $3 million from a New York Lottery scratch-off ticket that she bought in the store. "It's overwhelming," she said following a news conference Wednesday in front of the Corner News and Deli on Main Street.
What makes her story even more remarkable is that Dhimmer didn't even set out to buy a ticket. A woman in front of her asked for two "Make Me Rich" tickets. Upon learning they cost $10 each, she decided to purchase only one.
Dhimmer, who plays the lottery "once in a while," said she figured she would buy the other scratch-off. "There was no reason. She didn't want it, so I took it," said Dhimmer, whose greatest bit of luck prior to winning the jackpot was finding $26 on the beach.
Dhimmer didn't immediately realize she had won. None of the numbers matched, and when she scratched off the last box, she thought she might be an automatic winner. She asked her dad, who was behind the counter, to verify the ticket, and he told her that she had won.
"If that's not the definition of random, I don't know what is," New York Lottery spokeswoman Carolyn Hapeman said, adding that there is no rule that prohibits store owners from buying tickets or selling them to family. The woman who ended up not buying the ticket had left the store by the time Dhimmer learned she won.
Gayatri Dhimmer, who has owned the store with her husband, Pravin, for four years, said customers have won $10,000 and $21,000 in the past, but nothing like this.
"I'm happy for her, but still, I can't believe it," said Gayatri Dhimmer, who moved to Rockland from New Jersey a few years ago.
She said she hasn't splurged on anything yet but plans to pay off college loans and wants to buy a new . She can't decide whether to get a Lexus or an Audi. And, of course, she intends to take care of her parents. "They're very happy for me," Dhimmer said.