A Long Island man who discovered a lost lottery ticket has finally been awarded his prize: $1 million. Marvin Martinez, 27-year-old landscaper, says he was collecting leaves from a gutter last November when he spotted the "Win $1,000 a Week for Life" scratch card, WNBC-TV reports via the New York Post. He took it home, dried it out, and contacted the New York Lottery's customer service. They promised to investigate, and Martinez says he "forgot about it"—until his phone rang three weeks ago.
The New York State Gaming Commission gave him the ticket because no one had claimed it a year after it was purchased. Martinez chose to the take the payment in one lump sum, which comes to $515,612 after taxes—but he kept it secret from his wife, who works at a Subway shop, until the official announcement Friday. Her reaction: "I can’t believe. I can’t believe it." Now he plans to send money back home to El Salvador, buy a house, and help his mother pay off repairs from Hurricane Sandy. "I want to keep living a normal life," he said. "This won’t change us."