SPRING VALLEY, N.Y. — For the past year, Jemps St. Fleur and his uncle, Chrisnel Josaphat, have been collecting $100 a week from their relatives to play the lottery.
There have been a few small scratch-off wins here and there, but on Sept. 22, the Spring Valley family won $3 million, becoming the first winners of the top prize in the $10 Money scratch-off game.
Family members, who emigrated from Haiti over the years, became Rockland's second lottery millionaires of 2009. The Brucale family of Pearl River won $7 million in June.
St. Fleur, who works two jobs and has been studying nursing for several years, and Josaphat, a former gas station worker in Montvale, N.J., were presented with an oversize cardboard check by New York State Lottery officials Wednesday at Super 7 Convenience, the Spring Valley store where they bought their ticket.
"This is not only my money or his money. This is (for) the whole family," St. Fleur told reporters and curious onlookers. "This is a great opportunity for us."
The family will receive $150,000 for the next 20 years, or $99,045 annually after taxes.
St. Fleur, 24, said the family hasn't made plans about how they will spend their winnings.
"We really want to take our time right now and think about exactly what we're going to do with this money," St. Fleur said.
St. Fleur, who moved to the United States seven years ago, had been studying at Rockland Community College in Ramapo to become a nurse practitioner. He took this semester off but said he plans to return to college to get his associate degree.
Josaphat has been sending money to his wife and two young daughters in Haiti. He was the one who purchased the ticket and the first to realize they had won. He and St. Fleur were so excited that they went back to the convenience store to double-check, then drove to the Lottery's Long Island office to claim their prize.
"I was doing 95 (mph) in a 65" mph zone, St. Fleur said.
New York State Lottery spokeswoman Carolyn Hapeman said St. Fleur and Josaphat beat odds of about 1 in 3 million to win.
St. Fleur's brother, cousin and aunt joined him and Josaphat at the news conference. A large yellow sign outside the Super 7 told passing drivers that the store had sold a winning $3 million ticket.
When Lottery emcee Gretchen Dizer announced that Friday's Mega Millions jackpot was $145 million, St. Fleur was highly interested.
"I'm going to come here and play too," he said. "I'm thinking about becoming a billionaire."
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