New York: A New York City firefighter who retired after suffering lung problems while working at ground zero following the 9/11 terror attacks has won $5m on a lottery scratch card.
Carmelo Mercado, 63, was one of the members of Queens Battalion 49 who responded to the World Trade Center attack in 2001. He retired in 2004 after he was told by doctors that his lungs had suffered too much damage for him to continue as a firefighter.
Mr Mercado, who has four children, was at a store in Queens when he decided to play the Cash X100 game. His first ticket failed to win anything, so he bought another which turned out to be the $5m top prize.
He said: “I was in shock when I realised I won. It’s a blessing. “I will certainly help out my family and this year’s Christmas presents will be a little bigger than last year’s.” Mr Mercado will receive a cheque for $3.3m after taxes are taken out.
He now lives in Orange County, north of New York City, and also plans to take his family on a Caribbean cruise.