Aug 9, 2007, 10:30 am
Eliyahu Oliker often travels to delis and convenience stores around the area, selling small items, including lighters, popular at such shops.
He happened to be in Bardonia last week when he bought a $1 Million Dollar Duck scratch-off ticket at Don Alvaro, a convenience store.
"I scratched it off and I saw that I won," Oliker, 68, recalled yesterday as he claimed his million-dollar prize at the New York Lottery's regional office in Fishkill. "I was in shock. I'm still in shock."
Oliker and his wife, Esther, have been buying lottery tickets for years, but had never hit it big.
"I still can't believe it," he said.
Vinay Thapar, owner of Don Alvaro, recalled yesterday what happened when he sold Oliker the winning ticket July 30.
"I was afraid to tell him how much the jackpot was," Thapar said. "I thought he was going to faint."
The ticket wasn't the first time someone had hit it big at the convenience store, which also is known as Manney & Mickey's.
Two years ago, someone won a $2 million jackpot there, Thapar said.
"We're a lucky store," he said.
Oliker, a retired engineer, was thrilled to share the news with his wife. The couple live in Montvale, N.J.
They emigrated from the Russian city of St. Petersburg in 1975, when it was still part of the Soviet Union.
They already know how they will spend the winnings, which New York state Lottery spokeswoman Carolyn Hapeman said would amount to $50,000 annually for the next 20 years.
The couple's daughter, Rachel, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis years ago while in medical school. She is now 37 and relies on numerous medications — including one that costs $13,000 annually — to stay alive.
"Now we can buy the medications, pay for therapy, get whatever she needs," Esther Oliker said.
Esther Oliker said she planned to continue her part-time job as a dental assistant at an office in Bergen County, N.J.
The couple might take some trips, perhaps to upstate New York or to the Jersey Shore, they said.
Their lottery winnings will make their lives easier, they said.
But they said they were convinced they hit the real jackpot more than three decades ago when they were able to leave the Soviet Union for the United States.
"I thank God every day that we are here in this country," Esther Oliker said. "God bless America."
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