New York Man Wins $26 Million Jackpot

Wyandanch Man Collects $26,000,000 Prize from Friday the 13th Mega Millions Drawing

Forty-five-year-old Isabel Zelaya of Wyandanch, Suffolk County, is not the superstitious sort. That explains why Zelaya, a night shift worker for the Hicksville-based Coral Graphics Services, Inc., scoffed at his friends who advised him against spending $3 on a chance to win a $26,000,000 Mega Millions jackpot drawn on Friday the 13th.

“I knew it was my lucky day no matter what the calendar said,” gushed Zelaya, who purchased the sole jackpot winning ticket for the March 13, 2009 Mega Millions drawing. “I’m living proof that luck trumps superstition.” The odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are 1 in 176 million.

A native of El Salvador whose family settled in New York 26 years ago, Zelaya said he only started playing the Lottery within the past year with the dream of starting his own business.

“I want to be my own boss for a change,” said the former restaurant worker and aspiring restaurateur. “Winning the jackpot gives me the chance to make my life different. It’s a happy feeling.”

The father of two purchased his winning Quick Pick Mega Millions ticket on March 13, 2009 at the P & T Supermarket at 1293 Straight Path in Wyandanch. He claimed it the following Monday at the Lottery’s Customer Service Center in Garden City. Zelaya opted to receive his $26,000,000 jackpot prize in one lump sum payment with a cash value of $17,716,535 before required tax withholdings. His net check will total $12,073,818.

In keeping with the New York Lottery’s policy of awarding a $10,000 bonus to its retailers who sell a jackpot winning Mega Millions ticket, the Lottery will also award a $10,000 prize check to Segundo Peralta, the owner of the P & T Supermarket of Wyandanch, a Lottery retailer since 2003.  

New York joined the Mega Millions game in May 2002. On March 6, 2007, Mega Millions made history with a jackpot of $390 million – setting the record for the largest jackpot ever in Lottery history.