YORKTOWN, N.Y. - One lucky Cortlandt resident walked away from the Commerce Street 7-Eleven $150,000 richer after testing his luck on a New York Lottery scratch-off ticket.
Don Fernandez made a routine stop to the store Saturday Jan. 21, as he often did when making the trip from Cortlandt Manor to Katonah for his job with the Modern Paint Group.
That day, he grabbed his morning coffee and a $20 Wild Bonanza Multiplier. Little did he know he was about to profit from the gamble 7,500 times over. As Fernandez scratched, his hands started to shake. He went inside where Ahmed Bashjawish, the store’s proprietor, was surprised to see him again so soon.
“I must have sat in my car for about five minutes in disbelief,” Fernandez said. When he finally made it inside, Bashjawish had to practically force him to sign the ticket, as he was still too stunned to function.
“You always hear stuff like this,” Fernandez said. “It’s definitely different when it happens to you.”
Fernandez has won before, though nowhere near this amount. Three years ago, he won $5,000. Bashjawish said someone won $1 million once as well at the location. Fernandez said he has always played the lottery and after hearing success stories, decided that 7-Eleven was a good spot to support the hobby.
Though Fernandez plays often, he invests responsibly and said it’s the same money being recycled, so it’s not a drain on his wallet. After tapping into his earnings to pay off his 27-year old son’s college debt, he helped out some friends with small expenses. Other than that, he said he’s saved it.
“It’s a good feeling when you can help people,” he said.
He plans to use some of the money to continue developing an idea that was recently patented, an angled shovel designed to reduce the need to lift when removing snow, called the “Patriot Tool.”
Fernandez came up with the idea decades ago, but didn’t start seriously pursuing until 2009. Named in part for its red, white and blue color scheme, Fernandez said that if successful, proceeds from the shovel’s sales will also go toward an organization that benefits wounded veterans. If he strikes up a deal with one potential manufacturer, the colors can also be changed to accommodate different countries, so it can be sold internationally and keep its name.
He recently started a new job in Ossining, and although things are looking good for the future of the Patriot Tool, Fernandez said he’s not looking to quit his day job anytime soon. He said that if it is successful, he will likely focus on the shovel full-time, but until the future is more certain he prefers to stay busy. Aside from the lottery, he enjoys fishing and bowling in his free time.
Although a piece of Fernandez’s advice, “you gotta be in it to win it,” is applicable to both the lottery and business ventures, he said some of it is simply up to chance and there is no set formula for winning. Frequent participation helps; however, he said some people win on the first try.
“Let’s face it,” he said. “It’s just dumb luck. If you’re in the right place at the right time, you’re the lucky winner.”