Willie McPherson & Christopher Manzi

September 18, 2012

New York

Lottery Buddies from Manhattan, Morganville, NJ Share $14,000,000 Mega Millions Prize
The New York Lottery's Yolanda Vega today presented a total of $14,000,000 in Lottery prizes to a host of recent downstate and out-of-state winners. The multiple winner event took place at the posh Resorts World New York City Casino in Queens.

The day's biggest over-sized checks went to a pair of long-time Lottery buddies from Manhattan and Morganville, NJ, respectively. Willie McPherson, 74, and Christopher Manzi, 44, have been pooling their money to play New York Lottery games for the past 25 years. The pair met when McPherson began working for Manzi at the latter's Manhattan-based print shop more than two decades ago. Manzi said the resulting friendship was rooted in a long list of mutual interests.

"We both love the Lottery and the ladies," chuckled Manzi.

Manzi said he and McPherson have been chipping in $40 a week for as long as he can remember; a tradition that continued even after McPherson retired from the print shop several years ago. "I loaned him the $20 for the drawing we won on," chided Manzi. "I'm thinking he's got enough now to pay me back."

McPherson said Manzi might have bankrolled the couple's sudden change of fortune, but it was McPherson's lucky touch that made them both Lottery millionaires. The pair won their fortune on a Free Play ticket McPherson received as part of a Lottery promotion wherein players were eligible to receive two free Mega Millions Quick Pick tickets with the purchase of $10 worth of Mega Millions on a single ticket. "We won $14 million on a Free Play ticket!" McPherson said excitedly. "Fourteen million dollars on a FREE ticket!"

McPherson picked up the pair's winning Free Play ticket at Kyu's Coffee Shop on West 32nd St. in Manhattan.

Both men opted to receive their share of the prize in a single lump sum payment. New Jersey's Manzi will receive a net check totaling $3,475,319. McPherson, of Manhattan, will receive a net check totaling $3,271,778. Manzi said the pair planned to go on vacation together and invest in real estate. "I'll buy him a house and then he can buy one for me."