FLEMING — Carl Festa couldn't believe it.
The Auburn man went to the Express Mart in Fleming and purchased two bags of ice and a $5 New York Lottery scratch-off ticket, $1,000,000 Mayhem. The ticket was intended for his wife, Cheryl, but he decided to play it himself.
While sitting in his car, Festa scratched off the ticket and found that he matched two numbers: No. 14 was listed under "Your Numbers" and was one of the possible winning numbers on the ticket. It wasn't until after he revealed the numbers that he decided to see his prize.
Below the No. 14 read, "JACKPOT." He won $1 million.
"I was thinking this ain't real," Festa told the New York Lottery's Yolanda Vega during a check presentation Friday at the same Express Mart where he bought the ticket. "I finished scratching off the $1 million and I'm like this ain't real because I don't win."
He took the ticket home and showed his wife. She confirmed what her husband saw — that the ticket was a jackpot winner.
That night, the Festas had a party at their house. They didn't tell anyone about Carl's $1 million win.
Festa didn't rush to claim his prize. He said he waited 10 days because he wanted to talk to an attorney first and then tell his four children. When he went to the lottery's customer service center in Syracuse, staff there confirmed what he already knew.
"They said, 'You won a million dollars,'" he recalled.
Festa opted for the lump sum payment. He will receive $537,440 after taxes.
Vega asked him "the million dollar question": What will he do with the money? He plans to give some of the winnings to each of his four children, and he and his wife will buy a home out of state.
The Festas also plan to take six of their closest friends on a trip to Aruba.
For Carl Festa, he still can't believe he won on the scratch-off.
"It feels great," he said. "It is overwhelming. It doesn't still feel real."