A man has collected his prize money one year after discovering a lottery scratch card worth half a million pounds in a pile of leaves.
Marvin Martinez, 27, stumbled upon the “Win $1,000 a Week for Life” ticket when he was working near his home in Hicksville, New York, in October 2012.
The landscaper was clearing up leaves in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy when he spotted the ticket hidden among them.
Mr Martinez told the New York Post: “This was someone else’s luck, but my ticket!
“My co-worker was blowing the leaves and I was collecting them when I saw the ticket hiding between wet leaves. I still don’t know what made me pick it up.”
Mr Martinez handed in the ticket at the New York Lottery office in Long Island and three weeks ago he got a call to meet with Lottery officials because no one else had claimed it.
“A standard and thorough internal security investigation found no reason to believe that the ticket wasn’t rightfully the property of Mr Martinez,” a spokesman for the New York State Gaming Commission said.
“There was no report of theft or of a ticket being misplaced. In instances such as these, it’s standard practice for the Lottery to require a one-year waiting period before awarding the prize in case anyone else comes forward.”
Mr Martinez decided to take the winnings as a lump sum payment, which totalled $779,106 (about £475,000).
Mr Martinez, who moved to America from El Salvador six years ago, told local TV news that he intends to use the money to buy a house and help his family back home.
“This won’t change the way I live my life,” he told the Post. “I’m still going to keep working six days a week.
“My wife and I didn’t go on a honeymoon, so maybe we’ll take a trip to Miami or something. I want to keep living a normal life. This won’t change us.”