July 3, 2015 By Christian Murray
A retired firefighter who was a member of Battalion 49 in Astoria won $5 million after buying a scratch-off lottery ticket in Sunnyside.
Carmelo Mercado, 63, who retired from the FDNY after suffering lung ailments from Sept. 11, bought the ticket from the Smoke Shop at 45-20 Queens Blvd. on May 12 while he just happened to be in the area.
Mercado, a former Queens resident who now lives in Harriman, NY, won the $5 million after buying a “Cash X 100” scratch-off ticket for $20.
“I bought one ticket and lost on it,” Mercado said in a statement. “I noticed the next ticket in the pack was number 25 – my birth year backwards – so that was the next one I bought.”
That second ticket contained the winning combination earning Mercado a $5,000,000 instant payday.
“I was in shock when I realized I won,” he explained. “I said, ‘Holy mackerel, that looks like $5 million.’”
He will receive a check totaling $3,309,000 after withholdings.
Mercado said he has two daughters and two sons. He spends most of his days with his youngest daughter; he plans to buy her 10 “American Girl” dolls.
“Everything is beautiful now,” he said.
Meanwhile, at the Smoke Shop a large poster hangs inside the store that notes how the winning ticket was sold there– as reported last month.
However, unlike with Mega Millions and Powerball, the store owner does not get a bonus for selling it.