Retired Staten Island bus driver, John Gillen, aged 69, was the lucky New York Mega Millions lottery winner of $72 million in the 15th April 2011 Mega Millions draw, with the winning numbers of 22, 23, 33, 39, 48 and Mega ball 29.
FATHER OF 3, GRANDFATHER OF 16
John Gillen decided to take the one off cash payment of $28 million after taxes for his Mega Millions jackpot. He is splitting his winnings equally between himself and his son, John Jr. and his two daughters, Suzanne and Patricia.
On 13th April 2011 John Gillen went into ShopRite in Hylan Boulevard in New Dorp, to buy a lottery ticket. He wanted to buy from the self-service vending machine, “I walked in with $20 in my hand. I only wanted one ticket, but in the machine, I couldn’t get change back.” Gillen said.
He went to the customer services desk to get some change and realised he could buy his Mega Millions Quickpick from the desk. If he had the right change, he would have bought his Quickpick from the vending machine and not have won $72 million!
ShopRite also gained $10,000 for selling the winning Mega Millions ticket to the winner from California. This is the second time they have sold a winning ticket, the first time was for a Mega Millions draw in 2004 with a win of $19 million.
John said, “It’s all still sinking in. We’ve always hoped we’d be blessed with the $250,000 second prize so this is an immense surprise. We’ll take our time and donate some to our favourite charities.”
John Gillen said he always checked the Mega ball number first following a Mega Millions draw, in the hope that he had won a few dollars. On the morning of 16th April, every number Gillen checked matched the winning New York Mega Millions jackpot numbers. “I kept matching number after number and didn’t believe it, I had my relations double check for me because I didn’t believe what I was seeing.”
“I don’t think I can handle it,” Gillan said, “Me and my wife can’t comprehend the value of this amount of money.” He said his wife, Catherine, is a “nervous wreck.” “She isn’t a jewellery person. I just bought a Hyundai last year. That will last for a long time,” Gillen said, “Our heads are still spinning.”
Catherine has suggested they go on a cruise but John Gillen says, “she has been talking about a cruise, but she gets sick on the Intrepid (in the museum). How am I going to take her on a cruise?”
John was quoted as saying, “I was worried about what I was going to leave the kids besides bills.” He certainly doesn’t have to worry about that now. One of the children, Patricia Fitzgerald, aged 43, is a stay at home Mom and said, “It’s an overwhelming feeling to think that you don’t have to live pay cheque to pay cheque.” John Gillan, Jr., aged 36 is an NYPD police officer and has no intention of giving up work in spite of the New York Mega Millions jackpot win, saying “my kids are fairly young. I don’t want them to see their father sitting around.”
Suzanne Savino, aged 41, works as a teacher’s aide and plans to retire and spend more time with her children. She said when her mother, Catherine, rang her and told her that they had won the Mega Millions jackpot, she thought she was joking. “You’d think when you talk about, ‘if I won’, that you’d be jumping around screaming like a lunatic. But I surprised myself by being calm but obviously as happy as anything.” Suzanne said, “God has blessed our family, and we’re going to take it in our stride. I’m still trying to absorb the whole thing – it’s unreal.” She added, talking about her parents gift to their children, “It’s not out of character for them at all, but it’s the greatest thing. You can’t repay it. You can’t put into words what they’ve done for us and our families.”
The children of the Mega Millions winner from California are absolutely stumped over what they are going to buy their Dad for Father’s Day. John Jr. said, “what do you give the guy that gave you millions of dollars?” Patricia joked, “For this Father’s Day, it’s whatever he wants but picking it out will be tough.”