19-year-old Gaston man wins $35M Powerball

Published: May. 18, 2008 at 4:34 PM EDT|Updated: May. 28, 2008 at 11:51 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Gaston has a new millionaire.

The 19-year-old Powerball jackpot winner says a voice in his head told him which winning numbers to pick.

"I'm still telling my mother to pinch me because I think I'm in a dream," says Jonathan Vargas, who was playing the Powerball for the first time.

Vargas says he didn't opt for random numbers when he bought his ticket, but instead relied on intuition to pick them himself.

"I heard voices telling me which numbers to pick," Vargas told WIS News 10. "I know it sounds strange, but I really heard a voice in the back of my head."

It turns out listening to that voice paid off, big time. Vargas matched all six numbers to win $35.3 million.

"How about that. That's good. That's wonderful. I was wondering who won that," says Willie Smith.

"Wow. He was from Gaston," says Marty Reynolds of Neeses.

Vargas says most of the numbers, 12, 14, 15, and 21 represented the ages of his brothers and sisters. Number 43 because Sunday was his mom's 43rd birthday. And Powerball number 30 was just a lucky guess.

"It's like, I don't know. It's kind of a mixture of feelings. Scary, exciting, still shocking," he says.

Some Gaston-area residents have some advice for the young prize winner.

"Keep the same family and friends," says Lenora Sutton.

"Make sure you pay your taxes on it because they're going to get that first," says Daniel Ferdelman of Gaston.

"He outta take it and put it to good use. Buy him a house and a car," says Smith.

"Keep playing I guess is all I can tell him if he's got 35 million," says Travis Myers of Swansea.

"Spend it wisely because money doesn't go anymore like it used to," says Reynolds.

But he says he's not going to blow his newfound millions all at once.

Vargas told WIS News 10 he's going to invest the money, give to his church, and set up trust funds for his siblings. And of course, buy a new house for his mother.

"You gotta take care of moms," he said.

Vargas does say he'll probably buy a new house and car for himself and says he may go to college.

He told reporters the first thing he would do after Monday afternoon's news conference is go home and play video games.

The numbers drawn Saturday were: 12-14-15-21-43, Powerball: 30. The Power Play was three.

Reported by Brandi Cummings

Updated by Logan Smith