While bagging leaves after Hurricane Sandy, landscaper Marvin Rosales Martinez picked up what turned out to be a $1 million find.
The unscratched, unsigned Win $1,000 a Week for Life ticket he picked out of the piles of leaves was a winner.
Martinez took the ticket to a 7-Eleven, but Hurricane Sandy had knocked out the New York State Gaming Commission's ticket verification system at that store, Carolyn Hapeman, a spokesperson for the commission, told USA TODAY Network.
When he took the ticket to a customer service center, they confirmed he had a winning ticket.
A lottery ticket is "a bearer instrument," so whoever signs the back of the ticket and presents it with a valid photo ID is the winner, Hapeman said. But in cases like this, it is the gaming commission's policy to wait one year before awarding the prize in case anyone else claims it's theirs, she said.
That year has passed and this week Martinez was finally able to collect his cash prize -- a lump sum of $515,612 after taxes.
Martinez told the The New York Post that he plans to send some money to his family in his home country of El Salvador, pay for repairs to his mother's house from Hurricane Sandy and take a honeymoon with his new wife.