Along with the usual things that come with winning the lottery — a new car, a vacation — Donald Savastano was excited about finally being able to see a doctor after winning a $1 million prize in December.
The self-employed carpenter in New York told local media he hadn't been able to afford to do so because he lacked health insurance. But the doctor visit yielded devastating news: Savastano, 51, had stage 4 metastatic cancer.
He died on Friday, just weeks after claiming his prize money.
"He was self-employed. He didn't have insurance. He hadn't been feeling good for a while, I guess, and when he got the money he went in to the doctor," Danielle Scott, who worked at the store where Savastano purchased the winning ticket, told ABC 7.
Newsday reported that Savastano received a lump sum of $661,800 from the Merry Millionaire scratch-off game on Jan. 8.
When he won, he told local news that in addition to going to the doctor, he planned to use the money to buy a new truck and go on vacation.
Savastano was born in Queens and grew up on Long Island before going on to become a carpenter. According to his obituary, "he was known for his high-quality work and perfectionism."
Savastano's girlfriend declined to comment.
Blake Montgomery is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.
Contact Blake Montgomery at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.