Sept. 11 hero wins $5 million scratch-off game

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MANHATTAN -- One of New York City’s bravest who responded to Ground Zero during the Sept. 11 terror attacks is now the Empire State’s newest millionaire -- multiple times over.

Carmelo Mercado, who is now retired from FDNY, won $5 million on a lotto scratch-off he bought May 12. It’s the top prize possible in that game, according to New York Lotto officials.

When Mercado made his usual stop at the Jolly 1000 on Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside last month, he took a chance on New York’s new Cash X100 scratch-off game.

“I bought one ticket and lost on it. I noticed the next ticket in the pack was number 25 -- my birth year backwards -- so that was the next one I bought,” he said.

It was a great choice. That second ticket netted him $5 million.

He’ll get that reward as a lump sum in the form of a check worth more than $3.3 million, and plans on spoiling daughter and treating his family.

“...this year’s Christmas presents will be a little bigger than last year’s,” he said. “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.”

Mercado responded to lower Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001, with FDNY’s Queens Battalion 49.