A Thanksgiving to Remember: Four from Queens and Long Island Share $4,000,000 in Lottery Jackpot Prizes

QUEENS, NY (11/21/2011)(readMedia)-- The New York Lottery's Yolanda Vega today awarded $4,000,000 in over-sized prize checks to four very thankful jackpot winners from Queens (Jackson Heights and Woodside) and Long Island (Port Jefferson Station and Shirley). The recently opened Times Square Casino at Resorts World Casino New York City in Queens served as the centerpiece for the Lottery's special pre-Thanksgiving winner celebration.

Today's winners included an assortment of Sweet Million draw game winners and some newly rich scratch-off game winners.

Maria Sandoval, 74, of Jackson Heights, Queens won $1,000,000 on the Mega Money Multiplier scratch-off game. Sandoval retired from her job in the maintenance department of the World Trade Center in 2000. Sandoval, who calls herself a "seasoned Lottery player," purchased her ticket on October 26 at the Pena Food Grocery on 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights where she is a regular.

"I always seem to have better luck on the new tickets when they come out," said Sandoval. But, even past luck wasn't enough to prepare her for winning $1,000,000. "I scratched the ticket and started crying and shaking," said Sandoval. "They were good tears," she added. Sandoval claimed her prize October 27 at the Lottery Customer Service Center on Beaver Street in Manhattan, just blocks from the National September 11 Memorial.

The $5,000,000 top prize and the $1,000,000 second prize on the Mega Money Multiplier scratch-off game are both paid in lump sums. Sandoval will receive her $1,000,000 prize in one net payment totaling $621,540. "I'd like to take a couple of trips," she said. "I want to visit family in Columbia, and I would really like to go to Las Vegas. I've always dreamed of going to Vegas."

The borough's other big winner of the day was 49-year-old Marco Sierra of Woodside. Sierra won his $1,000,000 jackpot by matching all five Sweet Million numbers drawn on October 27. Like Sandoval, he will receive his jackpot prize in one lump sum payment totaling $621,540.

Sierra purchased his Sweet Million Quick Pick ticket on the day of the drawing at Broadway Liquor & Wine on Broadway in Woodside. "It's the place I go because it's just a couple doors down from where I work," he explained. "The day I bought my ticket was a day like any other," he continued. "I left work and got a couple of tickets on the way home." Sierra admits that his days will be a little different now that he knows he's got some extra money in the bank. "It's a little overwhelming to tell you the truth." The new millionaire has yet to make plans for his windfall. "I know some will go to paying bills. I really can't think beyond that."

Sierra claimed his $1,000,000 Sweet Million prize November 4 at the Lottery's Customer Service Center in Lower Manhattan. That same day another Sweet Million winner, 47-year-old William Iozzino of Shirley, Suffolk County, walked into the Lottery's Customer Service Center in Garden City with his own jackpot winning Sweet Million ticket.

Iozzino was one of two winners who each won $1,000,000 from the Sweet Million drawing held on November 3. The other winner, Christopher Johnston of Port Jervis, Orange County, received his $1,000,000 prize check earlier this month. The winning numbers for the November 3 Sweet Million drawing were 2-5-10-16-27-30.

Iozzino is employed as a waste water treatment plant operator for the Suffolk County Department of Public Works. He credited his good fortune with having his own set of numbers. "I always use birthdays," he said. "For this drawing, I used my birthday along with my son's, his mother's and my sister's."

Iozzino said he knew within minutes of the final number being drawn that his "special combination" was a $1,000,000 winner. "I checked the drawing results on the Lottery website (nylottery.org) and then went screaming 'I think I won!' through the whole house."

Iozzino said he has no plans for an early retirement, but the added money may help him realize one of his retirement dreams. "Maybe I'll open a hobby shop," he said. "Or, maybe I won't. Either way, it will be nice to not to have to worry about money." Iozzino will receive a lump sum payment totaling $660,300. He purchased his ticket on November 3 at Anjli & Sarika Stationery on East Montauk Highway in Lindenhurst.

Twenty-year-old Emin Kolayli of Port Jefferson Station, Suffolk County, rounded out the list of New Yorkers receiving their prize checks just before the Thanksgiving holiday. The community college architecture student claimed his $1,000,000 prize on the Cash Bonus scratch-off game.

"My cousin and I stopped to get some cash from an ATM before heading out to Brooklyn for a night out," recalled Kolayli. "We decided to try our luck on a couple of Lottery tickets while we were there." Kolayli said he played it safe and decided to buy the same ticket his cousin purchased. "I bought the next ticket on the roll," he said. "Better me [if it was a winner] than someone else!" Kolayli said his initial disbelief quickly turned to exhilaration. "I looked at the ticket 10 times before deciding it was real," he said. "I ran out of the store and called my dad. At first, he thought I was in a car accident. I was a little excited." And, how did his cousin react when Kolayli showed him his $1,000,000 winner? "I know he's happy for me," said Kolayli.

Kolayli purchased his ticket October 27 at Jasvale Mart on Rosevale Avenue in Ronkonkoma. He claimed it the following day at the Lottery's Customer Service Center in Garden City.

The top prize on the Cash Bonus scratch-off game is paid as $50,000 a year for 20 years. Kolayli will receive an annual net check totaling $33,015 through 2030. "I'll use the money to transfer to a four-year school," he said. The young bachelor said his plans might also include a new car. "A black BMW, of course."

The New York Lottery continues to be North America's largest and most profitable Lottery, contributing over $3 billion in fiscal year 2010-2011 to help support education in New York State. The Lottery's aid represents over 15 percent of total state education funding to local school districts.

Lottery revenue is distributed to local school districts by the same statutory formula used to distribute other state aid to education. It takes into account both a school district's size and its income level; larger, lower-income school districts receive proportionately larger shares of Lottery school funding.