A man who won $1 million in the lottery shortly after finding out he had terminal cancer has died.
Wayne Schenk died Monday at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Syracuse, according to the Baird-Moore Funeral Home. He was 51.
"He is in a better place now. He was starting to suffer, and we didn't want that," friend Nick Pascazi told The Daily Messenger of Canandaigua.
On Jan. 12, Schenk won $1 million playing a $5 scratch-off ticket in the New York State Lottery's High Stakes Blackjack. Five weeks earlier, he had found out that he had less than a year to live because of inoperable lung cancer.
Schenk had tried to get the lottery to give him a lump sum so he could enter a hospital that specialized in treating advanced cancer. His prize pays out in $50,000 annual installments over 20 years.
Lottery officials said they were sympathetic but couldn't break the rules to give him a lump sum. He had received just $34,000 of his win by the time of his death.
In an interview with The Associated Press in January, Schenk said he was trying to take each day in stride.
"I haven't given up, but it's getting right down there where time is of the essence," he said. "There's only one way to go, and that's up. I've already been down."
Schenk was a lifelong smoker whose parents died of lung cancer in the 1990s. He served on a troop ship off Lebanon during a stint in the Army from 1976 to 1980. Last year, he bought a tavern after decades of working odd jobs in construction, in the highway department and at a ski resort.
On April 4, Mr. Schenk married his longtime partner, Joan DeClerck, who was with him when he died. About 15 people attended the small wedding, he said.
Pascazi said Schenk made plans to leave his winnings to Joan.