Son Prays for Mom to Win Lotto, She Does

By Greg Cergol
|  Friday, May 27, 2011  |  Updated 5:51 PM EDT
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A mother and son's prayers were both answered with one scratch of a lottery ticket.

Gloria Bentivegna of West Babylon won $1 million in the New York Lottery's Sweet Million game one day after her son had called on God to give his mom the money.

"I really feel like I had a miracle," said Gloria, 61, a divorced mom WHO has long prayed that her Catholic faith would transfer to her son.

But Sal Bentivegna, 26, never saw eye to eye with his mom's beliefs, describing himself as somewhere between an agnostic and an atheist.

"She's always wanted me to feel what she feels and the belief she has in God; but I need physical proof in my life," said Sal, a car audio installation technician from Smithtown.

"I remember one day he was praying to a tree, like the Indians," recalled Gloria.

Last month, mother and son's ongoing debate over religion came to a head as they played the slots in Atlantic City.

Sal Bentivegna challenged God to prove he exists.

"I said, if he wants me to believe, he'll give you a million dollars."

The answer came within twenty-four hours.

Gloria was scratching away at lottery tickets she had won at, of all places, a church auction. She hit the jackpot with the "Sweet Million" game, winning a million dollars.

The winning number just happened to coincide with Sal's birthday.

"He said, mom, it's 13, it's directly to me.  It's what I wished for you.  I guess I have to believe," said a sobbing Gloria.

A few days later, Sal joined his mom at Ss. Cyril and Methodius church in Deer Park.   It was his first church visit in some twenty years.

"I don't think one can ask for more proof than something like that short of God or Jesus appearing physically in front of you," said Sal.

"I think He's really looking out for her and saying, hey, you've done everything in life for everybody.  This is my way of helping you out."

After taxes, Gloria Bentivegna will be paid $33,000 a year for twenty years. 

You may see this all as just a crazy coincidence; but other lottery players are taking no chances.

Many appeared at Gloria's church Friday to bring their lottery tickets closer to God, according to a church deacon.

"You have to believe in small miracles," said Gloria.  
 

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