Bartender rubs $7 million prize/Woodlawn man wins NYS Lottery scratch-off

Bronx resident Michael Moriarty poses with an oversized $7 million check and NYS Lottery rep Yolanda Vega at the Woodlawn shop where he purchased his winning ticket.
Community News Group/Arthur Cusano

If you’re looking for a lucky place to buy a lottery ticket, a street lined with four-leaf clovers seems like as good a choice as any.

The Bronx’ famed Irish neighborhood was certainly lucky for 56-year-old Bronx native Michael Moriarty, who purchased a lottery ticket in Woodlawn Gift Shop on Katonah Avenue on Wednesday, April 12 that netted him a $7 million prize.

Moriarty, who said he has worked as a bartender for years across the New York City area for the past 40 years, will take home $4.3 million after taxes by taking the lump sum prize up front.

He was joined by the long-time face of the New York State Lottery, Yolanda Vega, at the convenience store on Tuesday, May 22 where he shared with the media his fateful decision to play the state lottery game ‘Cash Blowout.’

Moriarty was dropping off his laundry at the laundromat next door when he bought the ticket.

He said he had been playing the scratch off every other day or so since Christmas when he started giving the cards out as Christmas gifts.

“I just wanted to scratch one ticket because I was already running late with my daughter,” he said. “When I saw a bunch of zeros, I was hoping for $10,000, that’s all I wanted.”

The 23-year-old cashier that sold Moriarty the life-altering ticket, Mohamed Albasir, said he and Moriarty were both in disbelief when he first scratched off the ticket on his now-lucky number, 33.

“He started scratching and when he saw the $7 million he started to panic, he said, ‘come here and check this out and asked,“if this was really happening.’”

Albasir said. “I thought maybe he hit for a one or two thousand. When I saw it was $7 million, my legs were shaking.”

Moriarty told Vega he immediately signed the back of the ticket and picked up his daughter before driving over to nearby Empire City Casino in Yonkers to have the ticket verified.

“She kept asking me is this for real, and I said I think so,” he said.

The veteran bartender plans to use the winnings to take care of his children, grandchildren and other family members, but first plans to buy a new fishing pole for himself.

When asked if he would continue to play the lottery, he seemed doubtful.

“Not really – the excitement is gone,” he said, laughing.

Another thing Moriarty said he would not do was retire, but admitted he would no longer be tending bar in the Woodlawn neighborhood.

“When you love what you do, you never really work, so now it will be more of a money-making hobby,” Moriarty said.

Moriarty attributed the luck of the Irish for the good fortune, and said maybe karma played a role as well.

“Are there more deserving people? I can guarantee it,” he said. “But apparently not today.”

Reach Reporter Arthur Cusano at (718) 742–4584. E-mail him at acusano@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @arthurcusano.

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