Retired 9/11 firefighter from New York City wins $5 million lottery prize

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A retired New York City firefighter who worked at Ground Zero on 9/11 won a $5 million lottery prize.

A New York City firefighter who retired due to health conditions related to work at ground zero is the state's newest millionaire, thanks to the New York Lottery.

Carmelo Mercado spent nearly 30 years with the FDNY, and now it's his luck that's on a hot streak.

Mercado has been buying scratch-off tickets for several years, but his May 12 stop at a New York City store scored him the $5 million, courtesy of a CashX100 ticket.

As part of the 49th Batallion in Queens, he was one of the brave firefighters who rushed to ground zero on September 11th.

Lung ailments from those dark days forced him into retirement three years later.

"As soon as the second tower fell, we all rushed down there to the 9/11 site, to the World Trade Center," he told 6abc's sister station, WABC-TV. "The atmosphere wasn't good. You see grown men hugging and crying, and I said wow, this is going to be bad."

Mercado is a 63-year-old father of four, including a 10-year-old daughter who wants some new dolls with all of dad's big money. He has even bigger plans.

"I usually rent a house in August, take my daughter to Disney World every year for the last eight years," he said. "This year, I might buy something down there permanently."

After taxes, Mercado, who now lives in Orange County, will take home about $3.3 million.
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