For a lottery jackpot winner, Donald Savastano had the worst luck. Weeks after winning $1 million in a scratch-off game, the self-employed carpenter died.
Until he cashed in on his new-found riches, Savastano, 51, was unable to afford health insurance. When Sevastano finally made it to the doctor, he got the worst news imaginable. He had stage four cancer.
"I was hoping that the money was maybe going to save his life," Danielle Scott, who works at the store where he bought the winning ticket, told WABC-TV.
"He was self-employed. He didn't have insurance, he hadn't been feeling good for a while, I guess, and when he got the money he went into the doctor."
Savastano died Friday, 23 days after he won the lottery. Funeral services were held Wednesday in Oneonta.
Savastano, a Queens native who grew up in Long Island, was living upstate in Sidney when he played the New York Lottery's "Merry Millionaire" game and won $1 million.
He received a $661,800 lump sum payment.
"This is going change our lives, to tell you the truth," Savastano said when he picked up his winnings. "I'm probably going to go get a new truck and I don't know probably go on vacation,"
Lottery winners throughout history
Lottery winners throughout history
Great Grandmother Elizabeth Jones, aged 71, from Warrington in Cheshire who won #8,355,262 (US$13,368,400) in last Saturday night's national lottery poses for photographers with a crystal ball May 5. Jones' granddaughter was told of a windfall this May by a spritualist she visited in October 1997.
Shirley and Frank Capaci show off a check for $104,300,000 during a photo opportunity in Pell Lake, May 27. The Capacis won the largest lottery prize in U.S. history in the "Powerball" drawing of May 20, 1998. Looking on is state of Wisconsin Lottery Director Don Walsh (R).
Sean and Alex Taylor from Whitwick, Leicestershire celerbrate after scooping the jackpot of ?9,512,277 on the National Lottery in Birmingham May 6. The pasties delivery man who has three children screamed with disbelief when he realised the size of his win.
Lucky lottery winner Bruno Calonne (C)holds a board December 3, with the amount of 69.378.690 francs ($ 13.8 million) he won in yesterday's draw, in this northern France city. He is France's biggest winner in the national lottery since it was founded in 1976. L and R are the unidentified loto shop clercks
Powerball Lottery winner Andrew "Jack" Whittaker (R) holds a copy of
his check at lottery headquarters in Charleston, West Virginia, on
December 26, 2002, after winning the $314.9 million jackpot. Looking on
at left are members of Whittaker's family (L to R) daughter Ginger,
grandaughter Brandi Bragg, and wife Jewell. REUTERS/John Sommers II
Joanne (L) and Jorge (R) Lopes of Englishtown, New Jersey, receive
their check for almost $59 million in Trenton, New Jersey April 30,
2002. Jorge Lopes bought the quick-pick Big Game ticket as one of five
he purchased at a foodmart. The couple took home the largest ever
single ticket prize in New Jersey. REUTERS/Chip East
Erika Greene of Lawrenceville, Georgia holding the display check given
to her at the Georgia Lottery headquarters as she and her mother Vicki
Chambless (R) laugh during a press conference in Atlanta, Georgia,
April 17, 2002. Greene who is one of three winners of the Big Game,
bought her winning ticket at Rans Texaco in Dacula, Georgia and will
receive $58,938,743 before taxes. REUTERS/Tami Chappell
Filipino-born hospital worker Pedro Sotomil (R), representing the PFK
Family Partnership, smiles as he is presented a ceremonial check by
Lori Montana (L), director of the Illinois Lottery, at a press
conference in Chicago May 17, 2002, where he claimed his portion of the
$331 million Big Game jackpot. REUTERS/Sue Ogrocki
Sheryel Hanuman (L) of Minneapolis receives a check from George
Andersen, director of the Minnesota State Lottery, at the Lottery's
office in Roseville, Minnesota, August 27, 2001 during the press
conference announcing her as one of four winners of the $295 million
Powerball lottery jackpot from the August 25 drawing. Hanuman plans to
take the cash option of $41.4 million ($27 million after tax
withholding). Hanuman, married and the mother of three boys, bought
five one dollar tickets at a Cub Fods grocery store while shopping for
a friend's wedding card.
EuroMillions lottery winner Angela Kelly smiles as she holds a copy of her winning cheque at a news conference at Airth Castle, Scotland August 15, 2007. Kelly, Britain's biggest lottery winner, was stunned into silence when she realised she'd scooped 35 million pounds ($71 million) with a single ï¿½1.50 ($3) ticket. REUTERS/David Moir (BRITAIN)
Powerball Lottery winners, from left to right, Chasity Rutjens, Alain Maboussou, and Dung Tran, celebrate after each was awarded a check for their share of the record $365 million jackpot in Lincoln, Nebraska February 22, 2006. The group of eight winners selected the cash option, awarding each person US$22,162,500 before tax withholdings. REUTERS/Chris VanKant
Winners of the record $340 million lottery Powerball look at the winning check in Salem, Oregon, November 8, 2005. The winners are: (L-R standing) Frances Chaney, Steve West, Carolyn West and Robert Chaney (seated). The winning ticket will be split between members of the Chaney and West families of Medford, Oregon. The $340 million jackpot drawing on October 19, 2005 was the largest Powerball jackpot ever won and the second largest worldwide jackpot ever. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola
Paul White (L), 45, from Ham Lake, Minnesota, stands with his partner Kim VanReese (C) and co-worker Nancy Bowen (R) as he holds a check for his $149.4 million portion of a $448.4 million Powerball jackpot prize at a news conference at Minnesota State Lottery headquarters in Roseville, August 8, 2013. White, the first to come forward to claim his money, was one of three winners of the jackpot. REUTERS/Eric Miller (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY)
Powerball lottery winners known as "The Ocean's 16 group", comprising of workers from an Ocean County garage, pose for a picture after a news conference in Tom's river, New Jersey, August 13, 2013. Sixteen county maintenance department workers from New Jersey submitted the second winning ticket on Monday in the $448 million Powerball lottery, officials said. The group from Ocean County, on the Jersey shore, was presented with a check for $86,054,355, their share of the jackpot after taxes, lottery officials said. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY)
John Mandley (L) of the Maryland State Lottery is pictured with the ?Three Amigos? who claimed their part of record-breaking Mega Millions jackpot in this picture released to Reuters on April 10, 2012. The Maryland Lottery?s Mega Millions winners are three friends, all of whom work in Maryland?s public education system, who will share the $218.6 million portion of the record-breaking $656 million jackpot from March 30. The winners, who referred to themselves as ?The Three Amigos,? chose the cash option of $158 million. After taxes, the winners will share $105 million, taking home just under $35 million each. REUTERS/Maryland State Lottery/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Mega Millions Jackpot winner Merle Butler (R) and his wife Patricia pose with their check along with Red Bud Mayor Tim Lowry (L) and Illinois Lottery superintendent Michael Jones during a press conference at Red Bud City Hall in Red Bud, Illinois, April 18, 2012. The retired couple described as "good people" by residents of this picturesque Illinois town claimed their one-third share of a record $656 million Mega Millions lottery prize on Wednesday, saying they would invest most of the money. The winning couple, Merle and Patricia Butler, married for 41 years, have lived all their lives in Red Bud, a tidy farming and manufacturing community of 3,700 people in southern Illinois, named for the trees that tower all over town. REUTERS/Illinois Lottery/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
Tom Delacenserie (L), Secretary of the Florida Lottery poses with Maureen Smith and David Kaltschmidt of Melbourne Beach with an oversized check after opting to claim their share in a lump sum payment in a winning ticket, worth $528.8 million, from the Jan. 13 drawing at the state's lottery headquarters in Tallahassee February 17, 2016. The Florida couple claimed their share of last month's record $1.6 billion U.S. Powerball lottery jackpot on Wednesday, coming forward with the second of the three winning tickets. REUTERS/Don Juan Moore
Powerball jackpot co-winners Lisa and John Robinson of Munford, Tennessee, their daughter Tiffany Robinson (L) and Tennessee Lottery President and CEO Rebecca Hargrove attend a news conference at the headquarters of the Tennessee Lottery in Nashville, Tennessee January 15, 2016. The couple revealed on the TODAY television show that they held a winning ticket to claim their share of the $1.6 billion Powerball prize. REUTERS/Harrison McClary TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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Savastano lived with his longtime girlfriend Julie Wheeler, and helped raise her sons. After his big win, Savastano began to see a bright future.
“I didn’t really have a plan for retirement,” Savastano told the lottery officials in an interview at the time. “The money will help with that.”
Savastano had told state lottery officials he was driving home from work Dec. 9 when he stopped at a gas station in Masonville and bought the game.
“I buy scratch-off tickets pretty regularly but I don’t normally play the holiday tickets,” Savastano told Lottery officials. “I saw the Merry Millionaire ticket and figured, ‘Why not?’