Cavan man wins $10m on US scratch card


SATURDAY, JANUARY 28th, began much like any other day for Brendan Riordan, a 28-year-old real estate agent in New York.

He showed three houses to potential clients and on the way home stopped off at the Irish minimarket on McLean Avenue in Yonkers to buy three lottery tickets.

Only the next day did he get around to scratching the third card, to learn that he had won a prize of at least $10 million (€7.6 million).

Stunned, his first reaction was to show the ticket to his father. They kept looking at the card to see if the numbers really matched. The next day he went to the lottery office to verify the numbers.

At the presentation of the larger-than-life cheque at the Empire City Casino in Yonkers, Riordan was still dealing with the implications of the prize.

“You can’t even get it into your brain that this has happened,” he told The Irish Times. “People are telling you and telling you and telling you, but it’s just a number in your head.

“You don’t even think about what possibilities have just opened up,” he added.

The award is paid in annual instalments of $520,000 (net $337,256), and he is eligible to receive it for the rest of his life. Mr Riordan quit smoking two months ago, and said the extra funds allowed him to indulge in buying more lottery tickets than he had in the past.

One of seven children, he left Cavan with his family more than 10 years ago, settling first in Orlando, Florida, before coming to New York.

The family owns an Irish radio station, Radio Erin, which is accessible on the internet, but Brendan’s father John (68) is a plumber by trade, and he said he had found it difficult to get work in Ireland. “We have a lot of family and there was no work in Ireland,” he said.

“There was no work when we got the visas in the Nineties. That was all over Ireland.”

Six of Brendan’s siblings live in Yonkers. In March the family will temporarily return to Killarney for the wedding of one of Brendan’s sisters.

Standing underneath a rainbow-coloured array of lights at the cheque presentation, he answered questions from a small crowd of journalists in an understated manner.

He wore a simple shirt and dark trousers and seemed shocked by winning the prize, although there was a big smile on his face. In the casino nearby, punters played on slot machines, hoping for a stroke of luck similar to Brendan’s.

He plans to celebrate by having dinner with his family at Rory Dolan’s pub on McLean Avenue, not far from the shop where he purchased the ticket. So far his plans do not extend far beyond that.

“I’m going to buy a house, maybe a new car,” he said. “I’ll keep doing something. I’d like to keep doing real estate, but who knows.”