Kicking off the New Year, the New York Lottery made two instant millionaires: Louise and Hamed Ganemtore, winners of $1 million instant game, and Cliff and Arlene Maxwell, who hit Lotto for $40 million on Quick Pick ticket four days before Christmas.
The New Year's first lottery millionaire is spending his fortune on a reunion that will be priceless.
Hamed Ganemtore, 34, and his wife, Louise, 25, have not seen their two young children since the couple moved to the Bronx from Burkina Faso, West Africa, six years ago, in search of a better life.
When Ganemtore uncovered the $1million jackpot on a Jumbo Bucks instant game ticket, he knew what he would be spending his winnings on.
"We miss them so much," he said. "I love America and I am going to move them here. We can't wait to see them again."
Ganemtore bought the winning ticket at a Yonkers Mobil Mart, where he works in car sales. After plunking down $5 for the ticket, he scratched off four winning numbers - beating 1-in-5,040,000 odds to grab the top prize.
"I called my wife," he said, "but she didn't believe me. Until she saw the ticket, she thought I was wrong.
"We've spoken to our children and told them we're going to move them over here. They're so excited!"
The couple's children - Abdoul Rahim Ulrich, 10, and Rachidatou Gaelle, 7 - have been living with relatives since their parents left Africa.
They will be meeting another family member when they arrive in the U.S.: The couple is expecting a third child next month.
"This win couldn't have come at a better time," said Ganemtore, who also is hoping to open his own deli or gas station with the prize.
Meanwhile, Cliff Maxwell took his $40 million scoop in stride. After hitting the jackpot on a Lotto Quick Pick ticket four days before Christmas, he went to bed.
"I double-checked the ticket, asked my wife, Arlene, to check it, and then we slept well through the night," said the 61-year-old father of five from Brooklyn.
"We didn't tell the family until breakfast on Christmas Day.
"I don't know what we'll do with it, but we pray that it doesn't change us," said Maxwell, who, like his wife, is a retired Transit Authority worker. "We want to stay grounded and levelheaded."