Scratch-off lottery ticket nets retired FDNY firefighter $5 million

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Rob Nelson has the story from Queens. (WABC)

A New York City firefighter who retired due to health conditions related to work at ground zero is the state's newest millionaire, thanks to the New York Lottery.

Carmelo Mercado spent nearly 30 years with the FDNY, and now it's his luck that's on a hot streak.

"I said holy mackerel, that looks like $5 millon," he said. "And my mind went blank. I was in shock."

Mercado has been buying scratch-off tickets for several years, but his May 12 stop at a store in Sunnyside scored him the $5 million, courtesy of a CashX100 ticket.

As part of the 49th Batallion in Queens, he was one of the brave firefighters who rushed to ground zero on September 11th. Lung ailments from those dark days forced him into retirement three years later.

"As soon as the second tower fell, we all rushed down there to the 9/11 site, to the World Trade Center," he said. "The atmosphere wasn't good. You see grown men hugging and crying, and I said wow, this is going to be bad."

Mercado is a 63-year-old father of four, including a 10-year-old daughter who wants some new dolls with all of dad's big money. He has even bigger plans.

"I usually rent a house in August, take my daughter to Disney World every year for the last eight years," he said. "
"This year, I might buy something down there permanently."

After taxes, Mercado, who now lives in Orange County, will take home about $3.3 million. It's a nice chunk of change, but just pennies compared to what he gave and sacrificed for our city.

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