Young landscaper stops for gas, becomes millionaire

Updated May 13, 2016
Darwin Aguirre Portillo was on his way home when he bought the ticket that turned him into a millionaire. Photo: New York LotteryDarwin Aguirre Portillo was on his way home when he bought the ticket that turned him into a millionaire.
Photo: New York Lottery

One in 5,191,200. Those were the odds of hitting the jackpot and yet one lucky landscaper won the lottery when he stopped for gas on the way home from work.

Darwin Aguirre Portillo, a 23-year-old from Brewster, New York, struck it rich when he scratched off the winning combo for the “$2,500 a Week for Life” scratch-off ticket.

“This ticket is my favorite to play,” Aguirre Portillo told the New York Lottery. “I’ve seen my friends win on it, so that’s the one I play. I always hoped one day I would hit the big one and now I have.”

Up to now, the best Aguirre Portillo had managed was winning $20 with the $5 “$2,500 a Week for Life” ticket.

“I was on my way home from work and stopped for gas and some water,” he said. “I ended up buying a ticket and scratched it in the parking lot. I matched on the number 22 and saw the word LIFE below it. I thought, ‘Oh wow, I won’ and immediately called my brother Daniel to tell him the good news.”

When Lottery spokesperson Yolanda Vega asked him if he was jumping up and down, she told Daily Voice, “He said ‘no,’ he wasn’t that excited, but he was happy.”

The prize has a guaranteed minimum payout of $2.5 million. Despite his youth, Aguirre Portillo opted to receive a lump sum payment. Vega awarded him a giant ceremonial check with the net amount of $1,390,601.

“Now that I have hit the big one, I will consider all of my options,” Aguirre Portillo said. “I might go back to school and start my own business sometime in the future. I’m also considering buying a new car and possibly a house.”

Aguirre Portillo could not be reached Wednesday to elaborate on his plans or indicate whether he intended to keep working for the landscaping company.

He is the 18th Putnam County resident to win a prize of at least $1 million. The New York Lottery is the largest and most profitable lottery in North America and distributes its revenue to local school districts.

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