BY LOHR McKINSTRY
---- — PORT HENRY — He may have won $1 million in the New York State Lottery, but Mineville resident Jamie Velsini says he’s not quitting his job or running off to some exotic locale.
Velsini, a correction officer at the Essex County Jail in Lewis, stopped at the Port Henry Stewart’s Shop on May 20 to buy gas then decided to get a lottery ticket.
Friday morning, he returned to that same convenience store to accept a giant ceremonial check for $1 million as the payoff from that ticket.
“When I stopped here, I was just going to get gas,” he said. “As I was paying for my gas, one ticket stood out. I asked to buy that one. It was a million dollar winner.”
Stewart’s Manager Kellie Valentine sold Velsini the $5 Fabulous Fortune game scratch-off ticket.
“He picked it out, but I sold it to him,” she said after the press conference. “I’m just happy he won. That’s the first big winner I’ve seen in 23 years (at the store).”
Velsini said he took the ticket out to his pickup truck, parked at the gas pumps and scratched off the prize area.
“I looked over the ticket 15 times before I was convinced it was real and I’d just won $1 million,” he said. “I signed it immediately and put it in my glove compartment.”
Then he told his fiancee, Erin Bigelow of Mineville, that he was a winner.
“She said, ‘No, you’re not,’” Velsini related. “No one believed me. I was shocked, nervous.”
He took the ticket to N.Y. Lottery’s Schenectady headquarters the same day, where it was confirmed as a $1 million winner, the top prize for the Fabulous Fortune scratch-off game.
The game offers a choice of a lump-sum prize or annuity payments, and because Velsini chose the lump sum, he got only $820,000.
That’s $542,676 after taxes.
Now he’s making plans on what to do with the money, but even more important, plans for his upcoming Aug. 31 wedding.
“We’re not changing anything about the wedding,” Bigelow said. “It’s just easier to pay for now. Life will go on a little easier.”
They aren’t upgrading their honeymoon, Velsini said, because they thought it was a pretty good honeymoon to begin with.
He declined to say where they’re going, but said he’s going to get some fishing in.
“We may do more fishing,” said Bigelow, who’s employed as a psychiatric social worker for Essex County Department of Mental Health in Elizabethtown.
The couple said they will also use some of the money to help their families.
Velsini said he occasionally bought lottery tickets when he stopped at Stewart’s, just not every day.
“I was feeling lucky that day,” he said.
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