With two kids getting ready for college in the upcoming years, Rocco Cannella was taken aback when he realized he just won $5 million. Cannella, 50 of Nanuet, bought the $5,000,000 Cash scratch-off game on April 6 at the in New City.
“I always give the new games a try when they come out. It was just a new ticket and a bought a few for Good Friday. Turns out, it was a great Friday,” he said. He’s a self-employed Rockland County contractor and is the first lottery winner in the state to win the top prize on the $20 game that went on sale April 3. He lives in Nanuet with his wife Eva, who is an educator in the area.
“I scratched the ticket in my truck outside the store and I thought I was going to faint. I checked it over and over. I didn’t believe it and thought it was a mistake. I called my wife right away and she didn’t believe me at first either,” Cannella said. “I took the ticket straight home and had my son take a look at it and make sure it was real. He kept saying, ‘You won $5 million. I can’t believe you won $5 million.’”
“I’ll now get to live a stress-free life and be able to help out our families,” said Eva.
Cashier Ronak Patal sold him the ticket at Quik Stop that Friday.
“It felt good that it left my hand. People don’t really get that chance often,” said Patal. “He’s a good guy and a regular customer here.”
Cannella claimed it at the Lottery’s Customer Service Center in Fishkill on April 9.
“I spent the entire weekend showing family and friends what a five million dollar lottery ticket looks like. I have two sons that will be going to college in a few years, so I’ll help them pay tuition costs. I’ll also buy a few cars, just chill out, ease into retirement, I don't want to work anymore."
Family and friends came out on Friday morning to the Quik Stop to support Cannella as he and his wife officially accepted the check from Gretchen Dizery. The scratch-off game is paid as a one-time lump sum cash payment, so Cannella’s net check totaled $3,309,000 after required withholdings.
“We’re excited for him,” said Robert Manea, Cannella’s brother-in-law. “He deserves it. He’s been down on his luck. He has two kids going to college in the next couple of years and they’re down to just one car. I’m very happy for him.”
Cannella is the second Rockland County resident this year to win a Lottery prize valued at $1,000,000 or more. The first 2012 Rockland millionaire was Joseph Cunnane of Congers who won $1,000,000 from the Sweet Million game in January.
About the New York Lottery
The New York Lottery is North America’s largest and most profitable lottery contributing more than $2.8 billion in the 2011-12 fiscal year to help support education in New York. The lottery’s aid represents more than 14 percent of the 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.