You may have heard the old saying, "One man's trash is another man's treasure". Well, it's a phrase that came to life when Rosales Martinez, age 27, found a winning lottery ticket in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Martinez came across the "Win $1000 A Week For Life" scratch-off while blowing leaves. The ticket was damn and dirty and another person may have just thrown it away. Martinez did not see the harm in checking out the ticket anyway, a decision that changed his life forever.
The ticket was found in October 2012, during which Martinez attempted to claim his prize at a local 7 Eleven. Unfortunately the store was not able to verify the ticket. This was most likely due to the damage caused by the storm.
Martinez did not give up.
On November 9th, 2012, he brought the ticket to the attention of the Long Island Customer Service Center. It was there that officials were finally able to confirm the ticket was indeed a winner. "Finder's keepers" sounds fair enough, however the fact was that Martinez admitted to having found a winning ticket that he did not buy.
Earlier: A man found a $1 million lottery ticket while cleaning leaves. BRB, we have some yard work to do http://t.co/wXgX6gsPcy
— People magazine (@peoplemag) December 30, 2013
Says lottery spokesman Lee Park, "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."
Officials were thorough in their search, on the off chance that someone had misplaced their ticket during one of the worst natural disasters to hit New York. When fleeing for your life, a lottery ticket purchased at a convenience store seems rather miniscule. It was very possible that someone hadn't missed the ticket until much later. Luckily for Martinez, no one ever came forward.
Park said that the investigation revealed no reason to consider Martinez as anyone other than the rightful owner. Finally, Martinez was able to cash in on the ticket he'd found more than a year ago. One Friday, he was among five individuals awarded lottery prizes. Instead of the $1000 a week, Martinez opted for a one-time lump sum, which totaled $515,612 after taxes.
When asked by lottery officials what he intended to do with the money, Martinez said he would be sharing his newfound wealth with his family.
Image via CNN Youtube