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Man throws away winning lottery ticket, but still collects

New York LotteryNew York Lottery: Man throws away winning lottery ticket, but still collects
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Lottery waits until 1-year claim deadline expires before awarding

Sometimes Lady Luck is slow-footed.

Degli Martinez, 55, of Queens, New York, claimed the biggest single Lotto jackpot in state history on Wednesday, a $65 million prize that took over a year and a police probe before he was allowed to have it.

"It was a lot of pain waiting," said the 55-year-old Paraguayan immigrant at a lower Manhattan press conference. "You never know whether you're going to get the money."

A maintenance man at a Park Ave. apartment building, Martinez defied 1-in-22.5 million odds, becoming the only player in the June 30, 2007, drawing to pick all six winning numbers.

When he took his ticket to the Queens Mini Market, he ran into some bad luck. While a clerk gave him a jackpot receipt, Martinez lost the original ticket in the exchange.

That began a year-long odyssey of hand-wringing and heartburn before Lottery officials were finally able to hand Martinez his check yesterday.

"He was a good sport," said state lottery spokesman John Charlson. "But we had to conduct an investigation because we didn't have the original ticket."

Martinez's wild tale began on June 29, 2007, when he bought a handful of tickets at a minimart in Sunnyside.

He returned the following day and had store clerk Supriyo Bhattacharjee scan the ticket bar codes to check for winners.

Bhattacharjee found a $2 winner and a couple of losers, and then his eyes widened with surprise.

"He was the jackpot winner!" the clerk recalled yesterday.

Bhattacharjee printed a receipt, handed it to Martinez and urged him to go to the Lottery office in lower Manhattan to claim his winnings as soon as possible.  Martinez headed home but accidentally tossed the ticket in the trash.  He still had the receipt, and Lottery officials confirmed the winning ticket had been sold at the store.

But Martinez had to cool his heels for a year because, by law, whoever turned in the actual ticket would be entitled to collect, and officials had to make sure no one did so by the 365-day deadline.

Martinez, a maintenance man at a posh Park Avenue apartment building, and wife Maria waited with bated breath.

"I was nervous. You never know how these things will turn out," Maria said.

Martinez's receipt was checked against the state lottery's computer records.  State police detectives were sent to interview staff at the mini market and check store surveillance videotape to verify Martinez had turned the ticket in.

Finally the deadline passed and Martinez was declared the winner.

He opted for a lump-sum payment that — after taxes — amounts to $21,176,066.

"I'm happy for him," said Jhilam Chowdhury, 43, owner of the Queens Mini Market. "I'm glad that everything was resolved."

"I am very happy," Martinez said. However, he said he won't breathe easy until the check clears.

"When I get the money I'm going to relax. To take it easy," said Martinez, whose wife, Maria, is a housekeeper in the building where he works.

He said he wasn't sure exactly what he was going to do with the money — except pay his daughter's college tuition.  And he isn't ready to quit his job.

"Now I can look forward to retirement without worry," Martinez said. "I can pay my daughter's college tuition and take care of my wife. Simple wishes for a simple life."

"For now I'm going back to work.  At least until I can find someone to replace me.  It's hard to leave a job you love," he said.

Lottery spokeswoman Carolyn Hapeman said that about $70 million in prize money goes unclaimed annually.

Also collecting yesterday was 59-year-old home health aide Linda Holley of The Bronx, who won a $19 million Lotto jackpot in May.

"I thank the Lord for allowing me to win this," she said.

MILLIONAIRES:  Degli Martinez - who had accidentally tossed his winning ticket - and Linda Holley meet the press yesterday.
MILLIONAIRES: Degli Martinez — who had accidentally tossed his winning ticket — and Linda Holley meet the press yesterday.

New York Daily News, New York Post, Lottery Post Staff

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23 comments. Last comment 8 years ago by jigzy516.
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BabyJC's avatar - Lottery-031.jpg

United States
Member #3271
January 7, 2004
148 Posts
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Posted: July 10, 2008, 9:08 pm - IP Logged

I don't understand where he lost the ticket - in his trash can at home or at the store's trash can?- Wouldn't they then dump it out and be able to find it as not much time had passed?  Very peculiar, and I can't imagine having to tell a spouse that you immediately lost a multi-million dollar lottery ticket.  Also, quit the job already - That is unbelievable!

ΩΩΩSmiley


    United States
    Member #58528
    February 18, 2008
    710 Posts
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    Posted: July 10, 2008, 9:41 pm - IP Logged

    Talk about ladyluck sitting on your shoulder!! Most state lotterys would say:No ticket,no millions for you.

      Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
      Chief Bottle Washer
      New Jersey
      United States
      Member #1
      May 31, 2000
      23275 Posts
      Online
      Posted: July 10, 2008, 9:51 pm - IP Logged

      Congrats to the NY Lottery for handling the situation well.  I can't believe that guy could throw away the ticket.  I would encase the thing in kryptonite to protect it.

       

      Check the State Lottery Report Card
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      Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
      Help eliminate computerized drawings!

        GamerMom's avatar - tails

        United States
        Member #60535
        April 21, 2008
        460 Posts
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        Posted: July 10, 2008, 10:05 pm - IP Logged

         $70 million in prize money goes unclaimed annually

         

        How in the WORLD does that happen!?!? People are morons!!

          duckman's avatar - ducklogodrake64x64
          Jacksonville Florida
          United States
          Member #23018
          October 6, 2005
          918 Posts
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          Posted: July 10, 2008, 10:30 pm - IP Logged

          Hope he doesn't throw away the check

          Smiley

            mken32's avatar - Lottery-062.jpg
            I dont know where
            United States
            Member #1702
            June 18, 2003
            103 Posts
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            Posted: July 10, 2008, 10:37 pm - IP Logged

            wow..... for a whole year of waiting congrats to you and ur family....

            Party Like a RockStar

              justxploring's avatar - villiarna
              Wandering Aimlessly
              United States
              Member #25360
              November 5, 2005
              4461 Posts
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              Posted: July 10, 2008, 10:57 pm - IP Logged

               $70 million in prize money goes unclaimed annually

               

              How in the WORLD does that happen!?!? People are morons!!

              Wow, $70M annually is a lot.   I forget how much the annual total for FL is, but there have been several very large unclaimed jackpots.  The largest single ticket that was never claimed was for $53.7 million. 

              I agree with Todd about the handling of the situation and am happy to read that the NY Lottery did the right thing.  I wonder if this man was in shock when he threw away his ticket.  I wouldn't go near a trash can after winning a jackpot either.  But I check my numbers at home anyway.  I'd be too paranoid to walk home after a clerk shouted "She has the winning ticket!"

              " But Martinez had to cool his heels for a year because, by law, whoever turned in the actual ticket would be entitled to collect, and officials had to make sure no one did so by the 365-day deadline. "

              I guess this means he didn't sign it!  So, even if the video showed he bought the ticket and accidentally threw it out, the New York Lottery is saying it wouldn't matter since it's a bearer instrument.  Interesting. 

                ThatScaryChick's avatar - x1MqPuM
                Idaho
                United States
                Member #56506
                November 21, 2007
                6537 Posts
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                Posted: July 10, 2008, 11:14 pm - IP Logged

                Talk about ladyluck sitting on your shoulder!! Most state lotterys would say:No ticket,no millions for you.

                I agree! This guy is very lucky. He may have went through a tough year, but I am sure he is happy now. Congrats to him!

                "No one remembers the person who almost climbed the mountain, only the person who eventually gets to the top."

                  jeffrey's avatar - moon
                  Hamilton, OH
                  United States
                  Member #4162
                  March 27, 2004
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                  Posted: July 10, 2008, 11:19 pm - IP Logged

                  I'm surprised they didn't tell him tough. They have done that in the past. He was lucky twice.

                    Littleoldlady's avatar - basket
                    Clarksville
                    United States
                    Member #487
                    July 15, 2002
                    17638 Posts
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                    Posted: July 11, 2008, 7:21 am - IP Logged

                    What he did do right was to validate the ticket.  That is how he got his money.  By validating it, the computers picked it up that the jackpot winning ticket had been turned in.  If he hadn't validated it, he would be SOL.

                    If you know your number is going to hit, have patience and then KILL IT!

                    You never know when you will get another hit.

                      tntea's avatar - Lottery-059.jpg

                      United States
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                      June 30, 2004
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                      Posted: July 11, 2008, 10:19 am - IP Logged

                      I am very happy for the couple.  I bet waiting a year was really hard.

                           OLD/Vtrac   Lottery Bible         Double Warnings      Thumbs Up TN F34/F44

                        Sandra Dee's avatar - dandy
                        Bayonne
                        United States
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                        May 13, 2008
                        129 Posts
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                        Posted: July 11, 2008, 11:38 am - IP Logged

                        Partywow, this is my kind of story!!! i never get a friggin' receipt for my numbers, nj lottery sucks! [unless i win] ... anyway, you mean to tell me he's about to be richer then, possibly, most of the people in the building where he and wifey work? WOW! now they have their american dream story!! love it!! i wish them the very best - i love it when people ine these sucky jobs [did housekeeping in college and believe me it sucks] get rewarded!! TGIF and someone is going to be debt free! now, we just need to work on the rest of us!! TONIGHT MAY BE THE NIGHT FOR A LUCKY SOMEONE!! jackpot is HUGE!

                        Hurray!

                          RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
                          mid-Ohio
                          United States
                          Member #9
                          March 24, 2001
                          19831 Posts
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                          Posted: July 11, 2008, 11:47 am - IP Logged

                          Linda Holley, the health-care worker was the lucky one, she was able to quietly collect her $19M jackpot while Degli Martinez got all the attention.  That's almost as good as collecting it anonymously

                           * you don't need to buy more tickets, just buy a winning ticket * 
                             
                                       Evil Looking       

                            RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
                            mid-Ohio
                            United States
                            Member #9
                            March 24, 2001
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                            Posted: July 11, 2008, 12:19 pm - IP Logged

                            Congrats to the NY Lottery for handling the situation well.  I can't believe that guy could throw away the ticket.  I would encase the thing in kryptonite to protect it.

                            He probably thought he had safely stored it until he got home.  Had he not pursued his claim with his verification receipt, that ticket might have shown up.  Sounds like NY Lottery waited for someone to show up with the ticket and explain why Martinez had the verification receipt.  They might have done some jail time with out a believable story.

                             * you don't need to buy more tickets, just buy a winning ticket * 
                               
                                         Evil Looking