9/11 hero a $5 million lottery winner

9/11 hero a $5 million lottery winner
By Gabrielle Fonrouge and Susan Edelman
July 2, 2015

Carmelo Mercado and his daughter, Lillian Mercado, 10, celebrate Carmelo's $5 million lottery win. Photo: Christopher Sadowski

A New York City firefighter forced to retire due to Ground Zero ailments won a $5 million jackpot with a New York Lottery scratch-off ticket, the Post has learned.

Carmelo Mercado, of Harriman in Orange County, hit paydirt with a $20 “Cash X 100” ticket, sources said. Mercado, 63, a retired member of FDNY Battalion 49 in Astoria, told the New York Post he had initially purchased one ticket, but then decided on a whim to purchase another — which won. “I was in shock,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it, to be honest with you. I didn’t sleep for two days after it happened. My mind went totally blank.”

Mercado, who receives a $91,000-a-year pension, will get a $3.3 million lump-sum payout after taxes from his lottery win. He said he was among The Bravest who rushed to the World Trade Center on 9/11, and came down with lung ailments after long hours working on the pile.

His condition forced his retirement, and he’s a beneficiary of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which provides continued funding for health-care programs for firefighters, cops and others hit by 9/11-related ailments.

The father of three adult children and a 10-year-old says his experiences made him more of a risk-taker. "After 9/11 sometimes you just have to be reckless; you never know.”

Source: New York Post