Money might not grow on trees, but apparently it can be found hidden under a pile of leaves. And by money, we aren't talking about a couple dollar bills that fell out of someone kid's pocket. We also aren't talking about $50 or even $100 dollars that would buy a few extra drinks on the weekend. We're talking about a truly life changing amount of money that could have easily been discarded in the trash without anyone ever knowing. Don't believe this is possible? Well, as if this isn't amazing enough, the lucky person who found a small fortune happens to be a 27 year old immigrant landscaper from El Salvador who barely speaks a word of English….
Marvin Rosales Martinez is a 27 year old El Salvadoran landscaper who lives in Hicksville, New York out on Long Island. On a fateful day back in October 2012, Marvin was cleaning up leaves, debris and various other garbage that littered the streets in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. At some point during the day, Marvin says he noticed a very strangely colored leaf rolling blowing around the street with a bunch of other debris. At first he didn't think much of it and proceeded to collect the leaves to put in a garbage can. As Marvin got closer to the strange looking leaf, he realized it wasn't a leaf at all. It was a scratch off ticket. The ticket was soggy, slightly damaged and covered with dirt.
At this point, who among us would possibly believe that a lottery ticket found in this shape and under these circumstances could possibly be worth anything? Maybe if you were extremely lucky, the ticket would be worth a dollar or two, but no more. Right?
Marvin slipped the scratch off into his pocket and continued working. That night, when his wife and kids weren't around, he scratched away the numbers. Can you imagine Marvin's shock and amazement when this tiny piece of garbage that was found blowing in the wind was worth $1 million!? In disbelief, Marvin drove straight to a 7-11 to try and get a second confirmation, but because the ticket was so damaged, it wouldn't go through the store's authentication systems. The next morning Marvin called lottery officials and told them his story.
Unfortunately, the lottery officials couldn't simply hand Marvin his winnings right there on the spot. Most lotteries have a strict procedure in place when a winning ticket turns up under such unusual circumstances. Lotteries refer to these cases as "finders, keepers", and policy requires they wait a full year before paying out the prize money in case the original buyer comes forward.
Disheartened, Marvin returned to his normal life which included six days a week landscaping 8-10 hours a day. Incredibly, Marvin never told his wife, his mother or his daughter about what happened with the scratcher. He kept everything to himself and life moved on. In fact, his family was so clueless that at first they thought the lottery official on the phone earlier this week was a prank caller.
As fate would have it, no one ever came forward to claim the winning ticket which meant 27 year old immigrant day-laborer Marvin Rosales-Martinez was the winner. His prize was $1 million or $1000 per week for the rest of his life. Marvin opted for the up-front lump sum which comes to $515,612 after taxes. Marvin doesn't plan on changing his life too much now that he's got a half million dollars in the bank. In an interview, Marvin told local reporters that he planned to buy his daughter and mother a bunch of presents, help some of his family back home in El Salvador and invest the rest. Amazingly, he said he does not plan on quitting his job as a landscaper. Then again, why would you quit when another $1 million pile of leaves might be right around the corner!