New York Carpenter Wins $1M Lottery, Dies 3 Weeks Later
Donald Savastano, a Queens native who grew up on Long Island, went to the doctor after winning. He learned he had cancer, WABC-TV reported.
SIDNEY, NY — An upstate New York carpenter who won $1 million on a scratch-off lottery game last month and planned to use it to retire died suddenly at his home of stage IV cancer, according to his funeral home obituary. Donald Savastano, 51, who was born in Queens and grew up on Long Island, died on Jan. 26, less than a month after claiming his winnings Jan. 3 in the state Lottery's "Merry Millionaire" game.
Savastano became a carpenter after working with his dad as a child. He worked for commercial companies before moving to Sidney and later became a successful self-employed carpenter.
"He was known for his high-quality work and perfectionism," Savastano's obituary said. "He always tried to reach out and help those he could by teaching them 'the right way to do things.'"
Savastano bought the winning ticket at a Mirabito convenience store in Masonville, off state Route 8. Being self-employed, he told lottery officials he "didn't really have a plan for retirement," so the $661,800 check he received — the total amount after required withholdings — would help him out with that, WABC-TV reported. The station was the first to report his death.
"I kept it under wraps over the weekend," he told WABC-TV. "But I did take it out a few times to convince myself it was real."
At the time, he said he might buy a new truck and go on a vacation, too. The plans also included atrip to the doctor, WABC-TV reported, since he couldn't afford to go previously.
Danielle Scott, who works at the store where he bought the ticket, told the station Savastano didn't have insurance and hadn't been feeling well for some time. A friend of Savastano's told the station he had brain and lung cancer and was in the hospital.
Information wasn't immediately available about specifically where on Long Island Savastano grew up, but Newsday cited records that indicated he was once registered to vote inSmithtown.
Funeral services are planned for Wednesday at 10 a.m. at the Oneonta Assembly of God Church in Oneonta.