DRYDEN — A Groton man on Wednesday claimed his prize money after winning $1 million on a scratch-off lottery ticket in recent weeks.
Lee Houghtling, 26, was surrounded by family, friends and several news outlets Wednesday morning at the Dryden Xtra Mart, where he bought the ticket, as he was presented his oversized prize check from Lottery representative Yolanda Vega.
“I was on my way to work and stopped in to buy coffee and tickets,” Houghtling said Wednesday.
He soon learned that he had won$1 million on a New York Poker scratch-off ticket after the store manager, Mike Wilcox, scanned it behind the counter for him. “It was a shock, I didn’t realize it was real until Mike (the store manager) scanned it,” he said.
“It’s amazing. He’s a regular, everyday Joe, he deserves it,” said Mike Wilcox, the manager at the store and the person who sold Houghtling the winning ticket.
After Wilcox had confirmed the ticket was real, Houghtling called in to work and told his boss he wouldn’t be in for the day, he said. Houghtling works in the auto shop at the William George Agency in Freeville.
“Everyone at work thought I was joking, now they won’t think it’s a joke,” he said.
The next person on Houghtling’s list to receive a phone call was his girlfriend, Angela Scaglione. Scaglione said she didn’t believe her boyfriend at first but after being shown the ticket she came around.
“It’s amazing,” Scaglione said. “He deserves it.”
Stopping by the store each morning before work was a ritual, Houghtling said. Every now and then when he had extra cash he’d play the lottery. The most he’s ever won before the $1 million was $500, Houghtling said.
After taxes Houghtling received a total payment of $536,058. With that money, he plans to pay off all his debt and buy his mother a new car, he said. He did not discuss his plans for the rest of the money, only saying he plans to “play around with it.”
Houghtling is the first person to win $1 million from the lottery in Tompkins County since 2013, Vega said.