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Richmond Hill factory worker wins $24M jackpot

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There will be no more daily 90-minute subway trips from his South Bronx home to a Richmond Hill tortilla factory for Manuel Reyes.

The 58-year-old is now an ex-factory worker after winning the sole prize in a $24 million New York Lottery drawing June 8.

“When I saw that I had won, I did not believe my eyes,” said Reyes, who immigrated to the United States from Puebla, Mexico 28 years ago. “When I got home, I woke my son up to check for me. Winning is unbelievable.”

Reyes, who worked the graveyard shift at Emperador Azteca Foods on Liberty Avenue, bought his winning ticket at the Stop 1 Grocery Market, one block west of the plant. The winning numbers, randomly selected by the lottery’s Quick Pick option, were 6, 26, 35, 39, 50 and 52.

He received a check for the lump sum of $11,906,582 before taxes from New York Lottery Director Margaret DeFrancisco during a ceremony at Stop 1 Grocery Market July 10. The advertised $24 million jackpot includes interest that would be earned on government bonds if the winner chose to receive annual payments over a 25-year-period.

The store’s owners were also given an award, becoming the first retailers honored in a new program that recognize the people who sell winning tickets.

“In the whole of New York State we sold the winning ticket,” said Sal Mohamed, who owns the store with two partners. “It’s amazing.”

When Reyes walked into the store shortly before the ceremony, Mohamed recognized him as a regular customer who stopped in frequently to buy coffee and lottery tickets. The two shook hands and flashed each other wide smiles.

Reyes, who has five children and five grandchildren, was joined by many of his family members at the check presentation. His son, Solomon Reyes, said his father would immediately retire and that the family planned to buy a house. He said they had hired an accountant to look into investment possibilities in Mexico.

“We just want to take things cool right now, buy a house and plan little by little,” said Solomon Reyes.

Meanwhile, inspired by Manuel Reyes’ good fortune, a steady stream of lottery customers flowed in and out of Stop 1, hoping the luck would be contagious.”

A lot of people got the fever now,” said Mohamed. “They want to play that lucky machine.”

A customer walked in, looked a the crowd that had gathered and asked Mohamed “why not me?” His reply: “Next time.”

Reach reporter Daniel Massey by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

Posted 7:08 pm, October 10, 2011
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