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Three weeks after claiming $1 million winning lottery ticket, 51-year-old man 'passes away suddenly'

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SIDNEY, N.Y. - Donald Savastano didn't even make it back to his car after leaving the convenience store where he purchased a $1 million-winning scratch-off lottery ticket.

"I couldn't believe it," Savastano said in a report. "I brought it back in and scanned it under the ticket checker and knew it was a winner."

Savastano, 51, said he typically didn't buy holiday-themed lottery tickets, but he "saw the Merry Millionaire ticket and figured, 'Why not?' "

Savastano purchased the winning ticket for $10 from a Masonville, N.Y. gas station on Dec. 9, 2017. Less than a month later, on Jan. 4, 2018, Savastano claimed a lump sum prize of $661,800. 

"Being a self-employed carpenter, I didn't really have a plan for retirement," Savastano told WBNG-TV. "The money will help with that."

"I don't have any other extravagant plans. I'll buy a new truck, pay off some debt and invest for the future."

Unfortunately, for Savastano, that future sadly wouldn't last long.

Three weeks after claiming his prize, Savastano died unexpectedly of cancer.

Savastano "passed away suddenly" on Friday, Jan. 26, after recently being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, according to his obituary.

Savastano is survived by his mother, four brothers and two sisters.

Ross Torgerson

Digital Reporter for Forum Communications. Native of Moorhead, Minn. Have a question or story idea? Email me at Follow me on Twitter @RossTorgerson