$3M Lotto winner all smiles on Black Friday

On Thursday, Nov. 1, a sleepy-eyed Stuart Grant, Jr., stopped into a gas station at 4:30 a.m. on his way to work in Cohoes.

A half an hour later, Grant, 40, a longtime operating engineer of the Norlite Corporation in Colonie, was being congratulated by co-workers as the adrenaline settled, leaving him with weak knees and clutching a winning $3 million Royal Riches scratch-off ticket.

I was shaking like a leaf, said the now-retired operating engineer minutes after state Lottery officials handed him and his wife, Deonna, 37, a $3 million giant check at Colonie Center mall Friday, Nov. 23.

Grant claimed his prize Monday, Nov. 5, at the state Lottery headquarters in Schenectady.

It was the top prize for the scratch-off game Royal Riches.

"My knees need a break. I told my boss that I needed to leave that day," said Grant.

This year was the first Black Friday and Thanksgiving Grant has had off as long as he can remember. He said he is happy he didn't have to work outside mining and manufacturing slate aggregate anymore. He resigned from his position a couple of weeks ago, he said.

He plans to seek his real estate license and the Colonie couple, splitting the winnings 50/50, have agreed to invest in their three children's education. They are ages 6, 12 and 14.

"I was sleeping and he came home with flowers and woke me up," said Deonna. "We are hoping to have another great Christmas and maybe take the kids to Disney."

Deonna is an administrative assistant at Medical Liability Life Insurance Co. in Latham.

Grant is a Lottery regular, one of the millions statewide who have contributed to a record $7.18 billion take in the fiscal year 2006-2007. Of that, the state has put another record-setting $2.3 billion into state education. To date, the Lottery claims to have contributed more than $31 billion to education in the 40 years it's been in operation.

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