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Tonawanda Lottery Winner: “One Jackpot-Winning Ticket Please, Hold the Mayo”

Forty-four-year-old Nellida “Nelly” S. Baez-Alvarado of the town of Tonawanda is Erie County’s newest Lottery millionaire. The 44-year-old Court Officer for the 8th Judicial District claimed her guaranteed prize of at least $1,000,000 less than a year after John Dove of Cheektowaga claimed the same prize on his own Win $1,000 A Week For Life ticket. 


The married mother of two said her life-changing moment happened on a day like any other. 


“It was a typical work day. I went to the store at lunch to pick up some mayonnaise of all things,” she laughed. “I did a few other errands before getting to the store and I just ran out of time so instead of mayo, I left the store with some scratch-off tickets and went back to work.” 


She won $2 on the first of two Win $1,000 A Week for Life scratch-offs she purchased. After revealing the third “Life” symbol on her second ticket of the same name, Baez-Alvarado said she called over a co-worker and asked him to confirm what she saw. 


“I was overwhelmed when I saw him look up at me with tears in his eyes,” she said. “I walked downstairs calmly and then dropped to my knees to thank God and my parents for this blessing.” 


Alvarado said she believes her parents, both of whom died unexpectedly last year, played a role in her unlikely win. “I don’t play except on very rare occasions,” she said. “That’s what makes this so special. I just felt full of gratitude at that moment.” 


Baez-Alvarado said she chose the Win $1,000 A Week For Life ticket because she was “attracted to the idea of not being a mega millionaire. I just hoped to win enough to make life easier.” 


She elected to receive her guaranteed $1,000,000 prize in 20 annual payments of $52,000 (net $34,414). Once that threshold has been met, she will continue to receive $52,000 a year, for life. 


Asked about plans for her prize she said, “It’s not about materialistic gain. There’s no greater gift for any parent than to see their children happy. This will make a big difference in their futures.” 


Baez-Alvarado purchased her ticket at the Tops Friendly Market on Niagara St. in Tonawanda. Fellow Lottery millionaire John Dove purchased his jackpot-winning ticket at the Tops Friendly Market on Union Road in Cheektowaga. 


The New York Lottery contributed $190,525,401.43 in Lottery Aid To Education to school districts throughout Erie County during fiscal year 2015-2016. 


About the New York Lottery 

The New York Lottery continues to be North America’s largest and most profitable Lottery, contributing $3.30 billion in fiscal year 2015-2016 to help support education in New York State. The Lottery’s contribution represents 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.