Independence Day is an understatement, considering this story:
Queens native and September 11 World Trade Center first responder, fireman Carmelo Mercado was forced to retire three years after the tragedy took place because of the toll it took on his whole body.
Mercado rushed to [what would later be known as Ground Zero] shortly after the second Twin Tower collapsed and spent the next two days searching through the debris for survivors.
Thirteen years later, he scratched and found.
Current situation: A millionaire-five times over (courtesy of a scratch-off).
Mercado purchased two tickets” the first yielded nothing. The second: after seeing the 1st digit, he said he had to do a double-take.
“I said, ‘Holy mackerel, that looks like $5 million. My mind went blank. I was in shock.”
After taxes, Mercado will take home a $3.3 million lump sum. “Talk about Jackie Gleason: Hamana-hamana-hamana that’s a lot of money. Beautiful!” The retired firefighter plans to take a cruise and buy a retirement home in Florida. And oh, yes…he has a daughter “My daughter asked me, ‘Does that mean I can get an American Girl doll?’ So I told her, ‘How ’bout 10?’ “