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The New York Lottery announced last week that Hicksville resident Barbara Romanik and her sister, Christina DiLello of Wilton, CT, shared a $1 million winning Green & Gold instant scratch-off ticket.

On March 10, Romanik, 46, and DiLello, 50, were visiting their mother in her Long Island home when "mom" asked for a lift to the store. Romanik decided to try her luck on one of the a Lottery's new Green & Gold instant tickets and bought the $5 scratch-off game, which offers players a top prize of $1 million, at Delight Traders in Floral Park.

"I didn't scratch the ticket until I got back to mom's house," said Romanik, who works as a teaching assistant for Hicksville Public Schools. "I screamed so loud when I scratched that last number with the word 'jackpot' underneath, I scared myself, my mom and my sister. I remember it very well."

Romanik opted to split the $1 million top prize with DiLello, a systems manager for Christina Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, CT and the sisters claimed their prize March 11 at the Garden City-based Lottery Customer Service Center. The pair will split the 20-year annuity prize, paying each $25,000 a year before required tax withholdings. Each will receive an annual net check totaling $17,037, which both plan to save and use toward their children's education.

The Lottery luck also struck for Isabel Zelaya of Wyandanch. Zelaya, 45, said he is not the superstitious sort, which explains why the night shift worker with Hicksville-based Coral Graphics Services, Inc., scoffed at his friends who advised him against spending $3 on a chance to win a $26 million Mega Millions jackpot drawn on Friday the 13th.

"I knew it was my lucky day no matter what the calendar said," Zelaya, who purchased the lone jackpot winning ticket for the March 13 Mega Millions drawing. With the odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot 1 in 176 million, Zelaya added, "I'm living proof that luck trumps superstition."

A native of El Salvador whose family settled in New York 26 years ago, Zelaya said he only started playing the lottery within the past year with the dream of starting his own business. "I want to be my own boss for a change," said the former restaurant worker and aspiring restaurateur. "Winning the jackpot gives me the chance to make my life different. It's a happy feeling."

The father of two purchased his winning Quick Pick Mega Millions ticket on March 13 at the P & T Supermarket in Wyandanch. In keeping with the New York Lottery's policy of awarding a $10,000 bonus to its retailers who sell a jackpot winning Mega Millions ticket, the Lottery will also award a $10,000 prize check to Segundo Peralta, owner of the P & T Supermarket, which has been a Lottery retailer since 2003.

Zelaya claimed his winnings the following Monday at the Garden City-based Lottery's Customer Service Center and opted to receive his $26 million jackpot prize in one lump sum payment with a cash value of $17.7 million before required tax withholdings. Zelaya's net check will total a little over $12 million.


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