UK & World News
Brothers Wait Years To Claim $5m Lottery Win
Two Palestinian brothers have claimed a $5m (£3.1m) lottery prize for a ticket they bought at their parents' store in the US six years ago.
Andy Ashkar, 34, and his brother Nayel Ashkar, 36, came forward with the winning ticket in March, just 11 days before the top prize in the "$500,000,000 Extravaganza" lottery would have expired, the New York Lottery said.
Andy Ashkar said he bought the ticket at his parents' store in Syracuse in 2006 and decided to share the winnings with his brother, officials said.
The agency said the younger brother said he waited so long to claim his prize because he was concerned the windfall could "negatively influence" his life if he didn't plan properly before being publicly introduced as the winner.
Andy Ashkar also told lottery officials that he also didn't want the windfall to influence his engagement and subsequent marriage.
Calls to phone numbers listed for the Ashkar brothers went unanswered on Wednesday.
Nayel Ashkar's wife, Sara, told The Post-Standard newspaper of Syracuse that news of the win was spreading fast, with family and friends calling to express their surprise and excitement.
"It's crazy. (It's) hard to believe. It's still sinking in," she said.
The brothers' mother, Wasa Ashkar, said her husband, Neyef, sold the winning ticket to Andy at the couple's Green Ale Market, but she couldn't remember exactly when.
She said she and her husband were Palestinians from Jerusalem, who immigrated to the United States nearly 40 years ago and have owned the shop for 12 years.
"I'm happy. Of course I'm happy," she said.
Lottery spokeswoman Carolyn Hapeman said the brothers claimed their prize at the agency's headquarters on March 1.
Unlike winning tickets for games such as Lotto and Mega Million that expire in a year, tickets for scratch-off games expire a year after a game is retired.
The Extravaganza game was retired on March 12, 2011, Ms Hapeman said.
She said the announcement of the winning ticket was delayed for seven months partly because of a fraud investigation, which is always carried out when the winner is related to the owner of the store that sold the ticket.
"It's part of our routine procedure to put that on retailer hold, where our investigators contact the folks who presented the winning ticket, and also the people from the store," Ms Hapeman said.