Photo by Christina Santucci
By Rebecca Henely

An unemployed Greek chef from Astoria was one of several lucky winners of the New York State Lottery recognized at Resorts World Casino in South Ozone Park last Thursday.

Ioannis Alexander, 53, earned a $1 million Powerball second prize. He was one of 18 winners from New York and New Jersey who won a collective $19 million from the state lottery. Yolanda Vega presented the winners with their checks at the Queens racino.

“I feel great,” Alexander said of his win.

Alexander bought his ticket Sept. 10 from 33rd St. Convenience and Discount, at 32-19 Broadway in Astoria. He won two days later.

The Astoria resident said he once worked as a chef, but is now unemployed. He said he was not yet sure what he would do with his winnings.

“I’m shocked,” Alexander said. “I haven’t thought about it.”

After taxes, his winnings will come to $661,800.

The big winners of the day were friends Willie McPhereson, 74, of Manhattan, and Christopher Manzi, 44, of Morganville, N.J., who have been playing the lottery together for the past 25 years. They won $14 million on a Free Play ticket bought in Manhattan and will be splitting the prize.

Another $1 million Powerball second prize winner was a group of 12 co-workers from a Manhattan-based financial services firm. Two of them were Queens residents: Daisy Hoyos-Montalvo, of Maspeth, and Sheila Chung, of Bayside.

Other winners were 42-year-old Nassau County mail house employee Alvin Cresencia, who won $1 million from Sweet Million scratch-off game; 54-year-old Nassau County deli owner Sangyol Paek, who earned $1 million from a Payday scratch-off; and 48-year-old Suffolk County freight car company employee Nikolai Haidu, who won $1 million on a Ruby Red X12 scratch-off.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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