Jonathan Vargas turns 20 in July. But he relied on the ages of close relatives instead of his own when he picked the six winning numbers for Saturday's $35.3 million Powerball jackpot.
The Gaston construction worker said his two younger brothers turn 12 and 14 this year; his sister will be 15 and his older brother will be 21. Their mom turned 43 earlier this year. And the winning red ball number?
"As far as 30 — just a lucky guess," he said Monday at a news conference announcing him as the winner.
While other winning Powerball tickets have been sold in South Carolina, state lottery director Ernie Passailaigue said Vargas, who went to Airport High School in Lexington County, is the first winner who lives in the state.
Passailaigue said Vargas likely will take the lump sum payment, estimated at $17.3 million, instead of the annuity that pays out the larger jackpot amount over 29 years.
Vargas said he plans to buy his mother a house and quit work.
"Right now, there 's no really big plans in the works," he said. The first thing he plans to do is get a lawyer and a financial consultant. He said he already has an accountant — his aunt.
Vargas said the numbers came to him while he was at work. He was having a bottle of juice and saw that the expiration date on the bottle was his birthday. He said a voice in his head told him, "Your family is going to bring you success and fortune."
"I heard the numbers in my head," he said. "I called my mom and said write these numbers down."
He also wrote the numbers on a napkin and tucked it away in his pocket. He still has the napkin. He was holding it when he watched the drawing Saturday night.
"When it got to the third number, I knew I had it," he said. "I was grateful. I was crying. It was a very emotional moment for me."
Vargas, who admitted he's still a little scared by the prospect of being a millionaire at his young age, said the money is "a blessing from God."
"You never ask the Lord why you are blessed," he said. "I'm not going to ask the Lord why he put it in my hands."
He plans to give some money to his church and may look into going to college or getting into the real estate business. He also plans to set up a trust fund for his four siblings who inspired the winning numbers.
Although Vargas said Saturday was the first time he had played the lottery, it's not the first big win for his family. His parents, Patricia and Anthony Richardson, said they won $10,000 in a scratch-off game in the early days of the South Carolina lottery.