9/11 First Responder Hits $5 Million Lottery Jackpot | NBC New York

9/11 First Responder Hits $5 Million Lottery Jackpot

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    An FDNY firefighter who responded to the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11 terror attacks -- then had to retire three years later because of the toll it took on his body -- just hit the jackpot. Lori Bordonaro reports. (Published Thursday, July 2, 2015)

    An FDNY firefighter who responded to the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11 terror attacks -- then had to retire three years later because of the toll it took on his body -- just hit the jackpot.

    Carmelo Mercado, a firefighter from Queens who rushed to Ground Zero moments after the second twin tower collapsed and spent two days aiding in search efforts, was presented with a $5 million check Thursday at the New York Lottery's offices in lower Manhattan.

    Firefighter Who Had to Retire After 9/11 Wins the Lottery

    [NY] Firefighter Who Had to Retire After 9/11 Wins the Lottery
    Carmelo Mercado, an FDNY firefighter who watched the towers fall during the 9/11 terror attacks and had to retire because of the toll the tragedy took on his body, talks about his past -- and what he plans to do with his $5 million jackpot.
    (Published Thursday, July 2, 2015)

    Mercado said that he hit the lottery after buying two tickets earlier this year. He said the first one didn't net him a prize. He said when he saw the first digit of the winning scratcher, he had to do a double-take.

    "I said, 'Holy mackerel, that looks like $5 million'," he said. "My mind went blank. I was in shock."

    Mercado will take home a $3.3 million lump sum payment, after taxes, lottery officials.

    "Talk about Jackie Gleason: Hamana-hamana-hamana that's a lot of money," he said. "Beautiful!"

    The former firefighter says he plans to take a cruise and may buy a house in Florida. He also plans to treat his daughter.

    "My daughter asked me, 'Does that mean I can get an American Girl doll?'" he said. "So I told her, 'How 'bout 10?'"

    He said that the money should also help with any medical expenses that could arise. 

    Mercado, a 27-year veteran with the FDNY, had to retire in 2004 after being told by doctors he had developed a lung ailment from responding to Ground Zero.

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