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Lottery Winners from Sayville, Commack, Williamsburg and Washington Heights Split $16.2 Million in Prizes


Yolanda Vega today presented ceremonial prize checks worth $16.2 Million to four downstate Lottery winners representing Long Island, Brooklyn and Manhattan. The event featuring multiple winners receiving multi-million dollar prize checks was held at Resorts World Casino in Queens, the highest-grossing video lottery casino in the United States. 

 

More on each winner’s unique story appears below. 

 

Winning a $7.7 Million Lotto Jackpot Gives Sayville Couple the Warm and Fuzzies 

The Fur Babies Forever Trust - that’s the official name of the Financial Trust established by two “soon-to-be-engaged” animal lovers who won a $7.7M LOTTO jackpot from the drawing held on May 27. Helen “Ellie” Krepela and Christopher Finno, both of Sayville, only recently started buying Lottery tickets together. Krepela, a dental worker, purchased the couple’s ticket during a stop for gas. The 46-year-old Krepela also takes credit for later scanning the ticket and “freaking out” upon realizing that she and her general contractor boyfriend would soon be $7.7 million richer. 

 

“I called Chris on his way to work,” Krepela said. “I had to put the store owner on the phone with him before he would believe me,” she continued. Finno, 50, said he turned his car around and returned home where the pair spent the rest of the day second-guessing their good fortune. 

 

“’This can’t be real. Check ‘em again. Check the website. Are you sure?’ We kept asking each other the same questions over and over before finally heading to the bank to put the ticket in a safe deposit box,” said Finno. 

 

The couple then spent weeks getting their financial plans in order before actually claiming their seven-figure prize. “Honestly, it was a relief to get rid of the ticket,” Finno said. “I can rest now.” 

 

The winning numbers for the May 27 LOTTO drawing were 07 – 17 – 30 – 34 – 47 – 58 and Bonus Number 25. 

 

The couple opted to take the cash value of the $7.7 million annuitized jackpot, earning the Fur Babies Forever Trust a one-time cash infusion totaling $3,470,334. 

 

Finno and Krepela said they were planning to make their engagement official later this year and they will stick to that timetable. “Neither of us wants anything extravagant,” said Finno. “We’ll have a nice wedding and maybe she’ll get a bigger ring.” 

 

Krepela purchased the couple’s lucky LOTTO ticket at the Sayville Service Station at 292 Railroad Ave. in Sayville. 

 

NYC Cop from Commack Unwinds with $3,000,000 Wonka Golden Ticket Prize 

Thirty-one-year-old Lukasz Solis of Commack has the distinction of being the first New York Lottery player statewide to win a $3,000,000 top prize on the $10 Wonka Golden Ticket

 

A regular scratch-off player, Solis said he stopped in the Sweet Tree food store at 16-04 Mott Ave. in Far Rockaway specifically to buy a Lottery ticket. He chose the Wonka Golden Ticket because “it was a new game and I like to mix it up.” Unlike other players who opt to scratch their tickets in the store to see if they’ve won, Solis said he takes a more therapeutic approach. “I wait to scratch the tickets at home,” he said. “It helps me unwind.” 

 

After scratching off all the numbers on the top and bottom of his ticket, Solis said he was glad to see a match on the number 22. Then he checked his prize. 

 

“You scratch a ticket with the hope of winning $50 or maybe winning your money back,” he said. “This has not really sunk in yet.” 

 

Solis opted to receive his $3 million prize in 20 annual payments of $150,000 (net $99,270). His plans for the money include helping his wife return to school and making some home improvements. 

 

Firefighter from Williamsburg Pays $1 Extra, Sees $1M Mega Millions Second Prize Grow to $3 Million 

Danny Vargas of Williamsburg finally beat his personal best; surpassing a previous $20,000 Lottery top prize with a $3,000,000 Mega Millions bonanza. The 51-year-old fireman employed by the NYC Department of Education said winning his millions playing Mega Millions is just icing on the cake. 

 

Mega Millions is my game,” he said. “In my house, when it’s Friday, it’s Mega Time!” 

 

Vargas won his millions by matching the first five numbers in the Mega Millions drawing held on May 26. Such a feat would usually produce a $1,000,000 payout, but because Vargas opted to add the Megaplier feature to his Mega Millions purchase, his prize increased automatically. The Megaplier is a number selected at random prior to each Mega Millions drawing. When purchased, it allows a player to multiply a Mega Millions prize by up to five times its original value. On May 26, the randomly selected Megaplier number was 3, turning Vargas’ $1,000,000 prize into $3,000,000. The Megaplier feature is available to all players for an additional $1 per play. 

 

The winning numbers for the May 26 drawing were: 25 – 26 – 28 – 37 – 56 and Mega Ball 05. Vargas will receive his $3,000,000 prize in a single net payment totaling $1,869,120. He plans to use his windfall to pay off his home mortgage. 

 

He purchased his Quick Pick ticket at Sterling Grapes and Grain at 115 5th Ave. in Boerum Hill. 

 

Washington Heights Porter Moves Up Retirement Plans with $2,500 A Week For Life Scratch-Off Win 

Hernando Fleites Padilla emigrated from Cuba 21 years ago and has worked as a porter for the same property management company for the last 17. Padilla calls himself a regular NUMBERS and Win-4 player. He only recently began buying scratch-off tickets and relies on the clerk in his neighborhood market to recommend the most popular games. And, so it was last month when Padilla entered the Ramesh Patel & Newsstand (DBA Te-Amo Convenience Store) at 5585 Broadway and asked for advice. Padilla spent a total of $20 on four $2,500 A Week For Life scratch-offs. The last one he scratched proved to be a life changer. 

 

“I saw the coin symbol with the word ‘Life’ printed underneath,” he said. The coin, which signified an automatic win of the prize shown, was printed the first spot on the top line of his ticket. “I knew instantly,” he continued. 

 

Padilla elected to receive the cash value of his annuity prize. He will receive a one-time net payment of $1,265,979. 

 

Padilla said his win will allow him to move forward with his plans to retire. He also plans to take care of family and invest in real estate in both New York and Cuba. “I am proud, extremely excited and happy,” he said of his new fortune. “It came at the perfect time.” 

 

The New York Lottery contributed $260,477,609 and $1,303,190,659 in Lottery Aid To Education to school districts in Suffolk County and New York Counties respectively during fiscal year 2016-2017. 

 

About the New York Lottery 

The New York Lottery continues to be North America’s largest and most profitable Lottery, contributing $3.27 billion in fiscal year 2016-2017 to help support education in New York State. The Lottery’s contribution represents approximately 14 percent of total state education aid to local school districts. 

 

New York 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.