James Marx Jr. always knew he’d win a jackpot.
“I felt lucky,” said Marx, who lives in Schenectady and has played the New York State Lottery for the past 20 years. “Just a weird feeling.”
The weird feeling has paid off. Marx, who will turn 49 on Tuesday, was one of two men introduced Thursday morning as the lottery’s latest big winners — both from scratch-off games. Marx was all smiles after hitting the top prize in the Set For Life game April 24.
Guaranteed $5,000 a week for life — with a minimum of $5 million — Marx decided to take a lump-sum payment of $4,222,946. He will net $2,794,754 after taxes, which equals the cash value of the $5 million minimum.
Robert “Bob” Daniels of Troy, 68, hit the top prize in the $1 million 20X the Cash game. He also has decided to take the money in one payment and will receive a check for $840,000. He will be $555,912 richer after taxes.
Daniels bought his winning ticket at the LB grocery store in Troy on April 16. He scratched off the winning symbols at home.
“I went downstairs and told my granddaughter, ‘I just won a million dollars,’ ” Daniels said. “She said, ‘Yes you did.’ I told my wife, ‘I just won a million dollars.’ She said, ‘No you didn’t.’ ”
Daniels, a retired Honeywell machine operator, decided against annual payments spread over 20 years.
The presentations Thursday marked the first time the lottery has permitted winners of some scratch-off games to choose either lump-sum or annuity payments. In the past, for Set For Life and 20X the Cash, annuity payments have been the only choice.
“At my age, 20 years is a long time,” Daniels said, drawing laughs from a small audience at the Stewart’s Shop at Freemans Bridge Road and Maple Avenue in Glenville.
Stewart’s made the news because it was the place where Marx — a project foreman at Precision Glass in Scotia and a 1982 graduate of Schenectady’s former Linton High School — bought his winning ticket April 24. Marx makes morning visits to the store for coffee, a roll and scratch-off tickets on his way to Precision. On the lucky day, he had extra time to kill because he had forgotten his work keys.
Marx had already won $100 on some scratch-off tickets, and while he waited for a co-worker to drop off another set of keys, he decided to invest $30 more on scratch tickets. Clerk Amber Ahrens, 19, of Schenectady, sold him the fully-loaded Set for Life ticket, which cost $10.
Marx couldn’t believe the winning numbers and letters that read “5 for Life” in the first square on the bottom row. Ahrens confirmed the score, and Marx called his wife, Colleen. He notified bosses at work; he notified the lottery the next day.
Marx, who dressed in a navy blue striped pullover shirt and blue jeans Thursday, said he plans to invest some of the money. Other parts of the windfall will help pay for his five kids’ outstanding college loans. A planned trip to Las Vegas will present other opportunities to spend cash.
“There’s going to be a tip,” Marx said, as Ahrens joined him for media interviews. When asked how much, Ahrens provided a quick answer: “All of it,” she said.
Marx said he has worked hard throughout life.
“Up until two years ago, I worked two jobs, seven days a week,” he said. “I was a carrier for The Gazette, I had a motor route and got up at quarter after three every morning, did my paper route, finished that and went to work.”
He said he plans to continue working at Precision Glass. He was going to be back on the job later Thursday afternoon.
“What else am I going to do?” he asked, smiling.