Ever since he began playing the lottery years ago, Forest Hills resident Pablo Mogollon has been convinced that his favorite Lotto numbers were lucky.
On Feb. 5, he finally learned that he was right: His six-digit combination, 03-17-13-33, earned him half of an $8 million jackpot in the New York Lottery.
Now, Mogollon, 54, is living high on the hog as he flies home to his native Peru for a month-long vacation to visit his family as a newly made millionaire.
A registered nurse at Manhattan’s Bellevue Hospital, Mogollon last week split the earnings of a Jan. 30 drawing with Oleg Soloviev, 50, a Belarus native from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.
On Jan. 27, Mogollon bought his winning ticket at BHP News on 82nd Street in Jackson Heights, where he usually goes to play his Lotto numbers. He spent just $5, choosing both a mix of randomly generated Quick Pick numbers and his own set of lucky numbers.
“There’s no special meaning to them, they’re just my numbers,” Mogollon said at an award ceremony last Thursday at Central Park’s opulent Tavern on the Green.
But it wasn’t until more than a week after picking those numbers that Mogollon learned he had won. Several days after missing the announcement on television, he returned to the store to see if he had netted any earnings.
When the store clerk told him he had, Mogollon initially guessed that it was a small sum, “maybe five or six thousand,” he said. But when the clerk told him it was millions of dollars, the winner said it was a sudden “mix of feelings.”
“Happiness, surprise,” Mogollon recalled. “And really just thanks. Thanks to God.
“I really didn’t know what to do after I won,” he continued. “So I just put my ticket in my back pocket and kept walking.”
Mogollon claimed his earnings on Feb. 5. Both winners took the option of receiving a $2.19 million lump-sum payout for their half of the jackpot, which after taxes will leave them with nearly $1.42 million.
After reuniting with relatives in Peru, from which he emigrated in 1988, Mogollon plans to buy a house in Forest Hills. After that, however, he’s uncertain how to invest the rest of his earnings.
In the meantime, one thing is certain: He won’t quit his day job, nor will he stop playing the lottery.
“I love my job. I like the energy of what I’m doing,” Mogollon said, noting that he has been playing Lotto since nursing school.
“I love lotto enough to keep playing. So, why not?”