By Mark Hallum
A Hollis Hills shop owner picked up a winning Lottery ticket at his own store and will be raking in more than $200,000 annually, but he seems to be enjoying his windfall by not going to work anymore.
Ajit Rana, a Long Island City resident and proprietor of Bayside Supply Smoke Shop at 22411 Union Tpke., could not be reached for comment and was not at the store during two recent visits.
A man behind the counter summed it all up: “He doesn’t come in anymore.” But he confirmed that Rana owned a portion of the shop.
According to the New York Lottery, Rana purchased his Cash4Life ticket the night of the Nov. 11 drawing and came into the store to find people talking about the winning ticket being sold at his shop.
“I thought to myself, ‘I wonder if it’s me?’” he said. “I checked my tickets and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I was just in shock.”
After discovering he was the lucky winner, Rana immediately called his wife — who exercised a healthy amount of skepticism.
“She thought I was joking,” he recalled. “So I went home and showed her the ticket. We just kept checking the numbers over and over again. We were both just totally surprised!”
Cash4Life winners do not receive their prize in one lump sum. The lottery awards them $1,000 a day which is delivered once a year in a check totaling $227,410.
The winning numbers for the Nov. 11 Cash4Life drawing were 8-11-37-41-54 Cash Ball 4.
Rana, 44, told the New York Lottery he has yet to decide what he will do with his winnings, but he does know he is interested in buying a house.
The weekly lottery player also plans to take the opportunity to visit his family in India, according to the New York Daily News.
Yolanda Vega, a member of the New York Lottery’s on-camera draw team, handed Rana a giant check Dec. 29 at news conference authenticating his status as a rich man, the Daily News reported.
The New York Lottery gave $1,241,108,424 in revenue from ticket sales to schools throughout the five boroughs during fiscal year 2015-2016 through the Lottery Aid To Education program. Contributions are made regularly and by the same statutory formula which determines where state funds to schools will be invested, directing more largess to districts with a higher proportion of lower-income families.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall