9/11 Firefighter Wins the Lottery, Hits $5 Million Jackpot

Carmelo Mercado wins lottery
Carmelo Mercado, a retired FDNY firefighter who responded to the World Trade Center after 9/11, hit the jackpot this week  Philip Kamrass/New York State Gaming Commission via AP

Proof that good things happen to good people! New York City firefighter Carmelo Mercado, who responded to the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, hit the jackpot recently, winning $5 million on a scratch-off lottery ticket.

Mercado received his check on Thursday, July 2, a little more than 10 years after he was forced to retire from the FDNY because of ongoing health problems. According to CNN, he suffered lung damage as a result of the time he spent at Ground Zero after 9/11. 

Now a stay-at-home dad to four kids, Mercado plans to use his winnings — $3,309,000 after taxes — to spoil his loved ones.

"I will certainly help out my family, and this year's Christmas presents will be a little bigger than last year's," he told CNN at a press conference on Thursday. "But I'm really excited to buy a summer house at Disney. We go as a family every year and it will be nice not to have to rent anymore." 

Also on the list? Some new friends for his 10-year-old. "My daughter asked me, 'Does that mean I can get one American Girl doll?'" he shared. "So I told her, 'How about 10? We'll get 10.'"

Most importantly, though, the money offers Mercado some financial freedom — and security. "I can't get insurance because of the ailments," he told NBC New York. "So if something happens to me, my family gets the money."

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