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9/11 Hero Cop Wins $1M in TV Poker Game

9/11 Hero Cop Wins $1M in TV Poker Game

New York Daily News via YellowBrix

December 20, 2009

NEW YORK CITY – After he was severely injured on 9/11, city cop Mike Kosowski started playing online poker to escape the pain.

All those hours in front of a computer paid off – Kosowski just won $1 million on a TV poker show.

“Talk about lucky,” said Kosowski, 53, of Staten Island. “I was one of the luckiest guys in the world to survive that day. And now this.”

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Kosowski was trapped with eight other people when the World Trade Center’s south tower collapsed. He suffered back and leg injuries and was forced to retire from the Police Department in 2004.

Bored and in pain, he began spending hours online playing poker.

His wife, Frances, tried to cheer him up.

“She saw that I was just sitting around,” he said. "She bought me a dog to try to get me out of the house.

“I was on a fixed income. I didn’t know what was coming next,” he said. “I was in a bad way. I wasn’t really mobile. I put on a lot of weight.”

Kosowski, a Daily News Hero of the Month in 1991 for helping collar three armed robbery suspects, had only played poker a few times before he was injured, but started playing up to six hours a day.

Kosowski heard about the show, Fox’s “ Million Dollar Challenge,” a five-episode series that also features celebrities, and signed up to be a contestant.

Fox flew him out to Los Angeles, and he beat model Joanna Krupa from TV’s “Dancing With the Stars” to get to Daniel Negreanu, a top player on the professional poker circuit. Kosowski defeated Negreanu to win the $1 million. The episode airs Dec. 27.

“I was shocked,” he said.

Kosowski can’t reveal the lucky hand that earned him the big paycheck.

“Let’s just say that eight is my new lucky number,” he said.

Kosowski said he plans to pay off his mortgage and set aside money for his two children, Mike, 15, and Rachele, 22.

He’s also going to give some cash to a scholarship fund that helps send the children of parents killed in the World Trade Center to college.

“The people that lost their lives down there, their children should be taken care of,” he said.

And he’s going to give to City Harvest, which helps feed the homeless.

“Being a cop, you see homeless people every day,” he said. “You wonder how they can make it.”

Kosowski said he’s still in shock over his good fortune.

“It makes you think, if you’re one of those lucky people to survive that day, life really is worth living,” he said.

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