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CHEEKTOWAGA RETIREE, 67, HITS JACKPOT DESPITE WINNING $4 MILLION, LIFE WILL GO ON AS USUAL, HE SAYS

Mario Lombardo, a 67-year-old Cheektowaga retiree who became Erie County's 22nd New York Lottery millionaire today, said life will go on as usual with the same house and habits.

"We will keep on taking our walks every day," he said. "No big changes."

Well, maybe a few new cars for the family.

Lombardo -- whose winning tickets were chosen by state computer -- was the sole winner of Saturday's $4 million Lotto jackpot. He is guaranteed a $190,476 annual payment, less state and federal taxes, for the next 20 years.

The only "exciting thing we are going to do," Lombardo said, "is go out to look for a new car for myself and my wife and one for my son. And I have told my daughter, who lives in Canandaigua, to look for one for her family."

"I was just saying the other day that I hoped my old car would last another year or two," he added.

Lombardo, his wife, Nina, and son, Dale, 43, arrived at the state Lottery office today in a limousine but without other fanfare or an attorney to turn in his winning ticket and claim his fortune.

What particularly amused him was that the computer picked his winning number.

"Usually, I buy two tickets," he explained. "I get a Quick Pick and then I pick the numbers on a second one."

The next step in his lottery routine is to clip the winning number box out of the Sunday Buffalo News and sometime during the day check them against his tickets.

His son stopped in Sunday morning and after discovering that Lombardo hadn't checked his ticket, decided he would.

"I looked at the numbers," the younger Lombardo said, "and couldn't believe it. I thought he had five winning numbers, which is pretty good. Then, I looked again and discovered he had six winning numbers."

Mrs. Lombardo remembered that "we all just kept checking the numbers over and over again to make sure we were seeing straight."

Finally, her husband, still not believing his luck, decided to go to a local supermarket and
check the numbers there, even though it was not where he bought the winning ticket.

"I really don't remember where I bought it because I just buy a ticket or two when I think of it and wherever I happen to be," he said.

Once the three were convinced they had a winner, a call was made to daughter Cynthia.

"She got hysterical," her father said, "and I had to keep trying to quiet her down. She was crying and kept saying she couldn't believe it."

Lombardo worked as chief engineer and grounds supervisor for Sears, Roebuck and Co. at its Main Street store until it closed several years ago and then transferred to Sears' appliance repair operation on Fillmore Avenue. He retired in 1985.

Since that time, the couple spends time with four grandchildren, bowling and taking "three- to five-mile walks every day," Lombardo said, "both inside and outside of malls."

He said he has been buying lottery tickets "ever since they started having it."

"Usually I get one or two on Saturday and Wednesday and once in a while I buy a ticket on Monday. I've won some small prizes . . . $20 or $40 and one time, $74.

"But something like is what you wait all your life for, especially for your retirement years. It will help make them good ones."

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