Two brothers in central New York have claimed a scratch-off lottery ticket worth $5 million that they purchased at their parent's convenience store six years ago, just 11 days before the deadline to collect. One of the brothers said he waited because he didn't want the winning ticket to affect his engagement and subsequent marriage.
Andy N. Ashkar, 34, and his brother, Nayel N. Ashkar, 36, came forward as winners of $5 million top prize in the "$500 million Extravaganza" scratch-off game seven months ago. Andy had purchased the ticket from the Green Ale Market, a convenience store in a rough section of Syracuse that his parents have owned for over a decade.
The brothers claimed the prize on March 1 at the Lottery's Customer Service Center in Schenectady, N.Y.
"It's unusual, highly unusual," lottery spokeswoman Carolyn Hapeman said Tuesday.
Andy Ashkar said that the reason for the extended delay in coming forward was because that he worried reveling himself would negatively influence his life if he did not plan properly before being publicly introduced, according to a release from the New York Lottery.
In New York State, winners of $1 million or more are required to attend a news conference and check presenting. The date the Ashkar brothers will attend their news conference has yet to be determined, according to the New York Lottery.
Ashkar also said that he did not want the winning ticket to influence his engagement and subsequent marriage. Calls to the brothers by ABC News weren't immediately returned.
During the six-year wait, Andy decided that he would share the winnings with his older brother. He made his decision "to show his appreciation for all that Nayel had done for him during his life," according to the statement.
Both Andy and Nayel Ashkar are managers at separate central New York auto dealerships.
Nayel's wife, Sara Ashkar told The Syracuse Post-Standard that since the announcement this week, friends and family have been calling to express their excitement.
"It's crazy," she said. "[It's] hard to believe. It's still sinking in."
The seven-month delay in the announcement since the brothers revealed themselves in March was partially because possible fraud was investigated, as the winners are related to the owners of the store where the ticket was purchased.
The lottery eventually determined the scratch-off ticket was bought legitimately.