Queens fisherman hooks winning lottery numbers

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Penello is the sole owner of the jackpot winning ticket from the New York Mega Millions drawing held on May 7 - a ticket worth $67 million, before taxes.

The winning numbers for the jackpot were 14, 17, 19, 44, 50 and the mega ball number was 17 - all of which Penello picked at random.

      "I was shocked," Penello said, remembering he was home when he heard the results of the Lotto drawing. "This is something I never thought would happen."

He asked that his hometown not be disclosed other than to say he lived in southern Queens.

The New York Lottery reported the odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot, based on a $1 wager - the cost of a ticket - are 1:135,000,000 and overall, the odds are 1:42.74. Penello said he has bought 15 tickets, usually three at a time.

      The oldest of five, Penello is splitting his winnings with his four siblings, Louis, Frankie, Laura and Marie, but none was there for the check presentation.

      "We were all in it," the 48 year-old Penello said. "My brothers and sisters and I all play together. Everyone picks certain numbers and every so often we play."

      The unmarried Penello is a commercial fisherman, working between Montauk and Rockaway. Despite his newfound wealth, he has no plans to retire.

"Restrictions on our catches is killing us. We risk our lives everyday," he said.

      In fact, Penello still has no definitive plans to spend d the money. He mentioned he might buy a new home or fix up his boat.

      Presenting Penello with the check, New York Lottery Director Nancy Palumbo told him "think big because this is one big check we've got here."

      He opted to get his winnings in a lump sum, which he took home last Thursday rather than receiving 26 installments over the next 25 years.

"You never known how long you're going to be on this earth," Penello said.

Lotto rules require that such a decision much be made prior to winning the jackpot prize. By selecting this form of payment, Penello has foregone interest and gotten about half of the advertised jackpot. The cash value of the lump sum can only be determined after a drawing has been hit, according to the New York Lotto.

      The winning ticket was purchased at Lawson Convenience, at 3111 B Lawson Blvd. in Oceanside, L.I.

"I'm in Oceanside for a very long time. It's a good location," Owner Altaf Masalawala said. H

"You know what's great? He bought his store five days before the winning ticket was sold," Palumbo said.

      Masalwala, originally from Bombay, India, is also a lottery winner, thanks to the retailer bonus program. Because he sold the winning ticket, he gets $10,000.

      "I really appreciate what New York State Lotto has give me," he said.       This sum is awarded to any retailer selling the Mega Millions jackpot winning ticket.

Masalwala said he plans to use his money to put more items in the store, which he hopes will lead to increases in sales and profits. He has always sold lottery tickets, but lately Masalwala has noticed a change.

"People are coming from all over the place," he said.

      Palumbo said the Belmont Race Track was selected for the check presentation because there is a Mega Millions race, which ended just moments before Penello received his check. The New York Lottery sponsors Belmont.

Reach intern Jennifer Misthal by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 173.

Updated 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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