Pastor Bert Crabbe of the True North Community Church in Port Jefferson Station says the donor, who asked to remain anonymous, donated the "Ba Da Bling" scratch-off ticket immediately after realizing he'd won.
The Rev. Crabbe says the donor believed, "this was why God put the ticket in his hands."
A New York state Lottery official says the church will get a little over $100,000 a year through 2028. The amount could be higher if withheld taxes are refunded because of the church's nonprofit status.
On The Early Show Friday, Crabbe told co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez the timing was noteworthy.
Three weeks before learning of the church's good fortune, he'd given a sermon in which he said, " 'Our church is out of room. We've grown to a size that we can't fit our building anymore,' " and I said to the church, 'Hey, we're gonna have to go rent a facility somewhere else, unless God drops a couple million on us.' And I was joking. I wasn't praying for it, I wasn't asking for it, I was just kind of being funny. And four weeks later, that's exactly what happened!"
Crabbe says the donor, who'd been at that sermon, called him out of the blue and asked him to come to their house in a hurry.
He was expecting the worst.
"When a pastor gets a call like that," Crabbe observed, "it usually means something bad happened. So, I was expecting something horrible. And, obviously, that wasn't the case."
Instead, "He sat me down and told me of his intentions. And I could tell right away he was serious. And his spouse was right there with it. And it was wonderful."
The parishioner insisted he wanted to give the church the whole thing, Crabbe recalls, even though Crabbe kept asking if he was sure.
Was this someone who could have used the money?
"I'd rather not say," Crabbe replied, looking to avoid giving any indication of who the donor is.
What will the church do with the money?
Basically, the same thing the donor did: "In Year One, we're gonna give all of it away. Our favorite charity is an organization called Love 146. They work toward the abolition of human trafficking, particularly among children in Southeast Asia, they're our favorite charity. So, they're gonna get a huge check. We're going to commit to continue with them for the length of the award. And the rest of it we'll give to various charities and nonprofits in our community and around the country and throughout the world, actually.
"A good example has been set for us. We're trying to do right with the money."