Landscaper Finally Collects $1M From Lottery Ticket He Found Raking Leaves A Year Ago

As the saying goes, good things come to those who rake. Well, maybe it’s “wait” but in this case either one works for a guy who found a lottery ticket worth $1 million while cleaning up leaves in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy a year ago.

The 27-year-old man came upon the ticket a year ago, and not being one to leave a poor, defenseless bit of paper all on its own, adopted the orphaned lottery prize, reports the New York Post.

“My co-worker was blowing the leaves and I was collecting them when I saw the ticket hiding between wet leaves,” the lucky guy tells the Post. “I still don’t know what made me pick it up.”

Once he did he saw that all three numbers on the “Win $1,000 a Week for Life” scratch card were winners.

“Whoever threw it away probably didn’t realize there was a prize,” he explained. “I took it home and showed it to my mom but she didn’t believe it.”

After the New York Lottery customer service center reopened in the wake of power outages from Sandy, he finally turned in his ticket to get verified. The process of making sure he was well and truly a winner took so long, he says he forgot about it.

That is, until three weeks ago when he got a happy phone call that no one else had claimed the ticket, which meant he got to be the keeper.

“A standard and thorough internal security investigation found no reason to believe that the ticket wasn’t rightfully the property of [the man],” a spokesman for the New York State Gaming Commission said. “There was no ­report of theft or of a ticket being misplaced.”

As for that long year in between when he found the ticket and now, the commission says a one-year waiting period is standard to make sure no one else shows up with a claim on the prize.

And while a million dollars (or $515,612 in a lump-sum payment after taxes) isn’t going to buy him swimming pools filled with gold, the money is nothing to sneeze at, either. He says he’ll buy a house and help his mom pay off repairs from Sandy damage.

“This won’t change the way I live my life,” he said. “I’m still going to keep working six days a week.”

Man finds $1M lotto winner in Hurricane Sandy leaves [New York Post]