New York scratch-off lotto winner credits lucky can of soup

A New York man won a $2,624,617 lottery prize after purchasing two scratch-off tickets along with a "lucky" can of soup. Neal Damato hopes to use the money from the windfall to extend his anniversary trip with his wife, Carol, and provide financial help for their children. Photo by Pung/

Feb. 17 (UPI) — A retired New York man credited a “lucky” can of soup for helping him win a scratch-off lottery game.

Neal Damato won the New York Lottery’s Set for Life instant game, worth at least $5 million, after purchasing the tickets while picking up the soup can.

“I was not working that day and told my wife that I wanted to go out for a burger for lunch,” Damato said. “After that, we did a couple of errands and my wife told me she wanted to go to Kohl’s. I sat in the car like I always do, feeling really stuffed from the burger. I decided to head over to the Stop and Shop for a can of soup for dinner because that’s all I had room for.”

Damato then made what turned out to be a life-changing decision when he purchased two Set for Life tickets for $20 from a vending machine in the store.

“I scratched the first ticket outside the store and stood there in disbelief thinking, ‘Something’s not right here,'” he told Newsday. “I double- and triple-checked, and then went looking for my wife.”

He opted to receive a lump sum of $2,624,617 after required holding and hopes to add Tahiti to the itinerary for his 50th wedding anniversary trip to Hawaii with his wife, Carol.

His wife said she would rather prioritize the prize money by spending it on their children.

“We both want to help our kids with their college bills and mortgages and pay off other bills the best we can,” she said.

Damato was so overjoyed by the win that he didn’t eat the can of soup and plans to keep it as a reminder of the windfall.

“One thing is certain,” he said. “No one will ever open that can. I want them to bury me with that lucky can of chicken noodle.”


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