"I could have been in a morgue," William Braithwaite said.
It's a far cry from where Braithwaite could have been, at this home in Brooklyn, wearing a big smile recounting the kind of fortune that doesn't come on slips of paper.
"Today I'm just reflecting on what could have been," Braithwaite said.
Wednesday, Braithwaite was on his weekly run to the liquor store across from his office, to buy what he hoped would be a little lottery luck.
Instead, he got what felt like the opposite when he heard those terrifying words:
"This is a hold up, give me all of your money," Braithwaite said, "He has a big gun in his hand, semiautomatic, I say this is serious. He says, 'Give me all of your money,' I took out my wallet."
The two robbers demanded cash from the clerk, then forced Braithwaite and the one other customer to lay face down on the ground.
"I start thinking if this is the end of the road for me," Braithwaite said.
As police surrounded the Arrow Wine and Liquor Store, and one robber waved a gun, Braithwaite says he laid there thinking of his four grandchildren and four other people he's never met.
"The main thing on my mind is those people up in Long Island, that situation in Long Island, I think, I wonder if these guys are going to kill," Braithwaite said.
From the thought of the worst, to the chance to escape, the robbers grabbed the store clerk and the other hostage and dragged them to the back.
"I suddenly realize I'm alone in the front and I scoot to the door," Braithwaite said.
He made a clean break, and then waited at the scene until hours later when the other two hostages were dramatically freed, unharmed.
It's not the kind of luck Braithwaite was betting on, but a kind that has him counting his blessings even more.
"I'm just grateful to God for saving me and the other guys too," Braithwaite said.