Mary Alice Fallon of Rockaway Point is a regular at Deirdre Maeves Supermarket in Breezy Point, where she takes part in what she calls “one of life’s simple pleasures”: playing the New York Lottery.
As part of a routine that she has followed for the past ten years, Fallon visits the Deirdre Maeves Supermarket and buys one lottery ticket from each of the store’s three vending machines. On November 23, however, she got a little careless, and failed to scratch off the entire ticket.
She threw the ticket away, but 24-year-old Chris Connelly, whose mother owns the store, double-checked the ticket, and immediately called Fallon back to the store.
“I yelled ‘wait, wait you need to come back. This is a big winner,’” Connelly said in a statement.
Connelly then handed over the winning $1,000,000 Mania instant ticket to Fallon.
“I didn’t think about whether I should return the ticket to the customer or not, I just did,” said Connelly.
Connelly was hard at work last Thursday afternoon, so he couldn’t be there when New York Lottery officials handed over a check for $1,000,000 to Fallon with the Panorama at the Queens Museum of Art as the backdrop.
Surrounding Fallon were several of her seven children, with whom she plans to split the money.
“If it wasn’t for Chris and his honesty, I could have thrown away $1,000,000 without knowing it,” said Fallon. “I guess someone was watching out for me.”
While Chris Connelly couldn’t attend the ceremony last week, his parents did make it.
“You teach your children to do the right thing and to be honest, and Chris could have stolen $1,000,000, but he didn’t,” said Connelly’s father. “We are the most proud parents in the world.”
The New York Lottery is the most profitable lottery in America. Last fiscal year, the lottery generated $7.549 billion in revenues, a sizable percentage of which goes to fund education programs in the state.