Lotto winner Marvin Rosales-Martinez found a winning $1 million scratch-off ticket hidden beneath a damp pile of leaves while landscaping on Long Island following Hurricane Sandy.
"I saw a ticket rolling with a bunch of leaves," recounted the Spanish-speaking Martinez through a translator to the New York Daily News
"It was all wet, and I took it home and I dried it," he added. "When I found out I had won, I felt very lucky. I felt very happy."
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In a statement to CNN, the New York Lottery said that Martinez
initially brought the ticket to a 7-Eleven however clerks at the convenient store were unable to verify it.
One month later, the 27-year-old landscaper brought the winning ticket to the lottery's Long Island Customer Service Center where it was confirmed by officials.
Before Martinez was able collect his winnings, the lottery office launched a "standard and thorough internal security investigation" to ensure the ticket's validity and that he was the rightful owner considering he had found the ticket, CNN noted.
After no one else had come forward to claim the ticket, Martinez was named the winner.
"It should be noted that Lottery tickets are bearer instruments," lottery spokesman Lee Park told CNN. "In instances such as these, it's standard practice for the lottery to require a one-year waiting period before awarding the prize in case anyone else comes forward."
Martinez's mother Maria told the New York Daily News that she had initially told her son to toss the ticket but was so glad he didn't listen to her.
"I said 'Oh my God!' when I found out that he won," Maria said. "I didn’t believe it."
"He told me, 'I’ve been working for 20 years in this country and I’ve never found even $100 — let alone a million,'" Maria added.
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Having selected the cash option, Martinez is set to bring home $515,612 after taxes lottery officials told the New York tabloid.
Martinez collected his winnings along with four other New Yorkers on Friday, all of whom won $1 million prizes.
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