ABC News’ Eliza Murphy and Erin McLaughlin:
Just days before his graduation, a very lucky high school senior got the surprise of a lifetime. He won a lottery prize that will give him $1,000 a week for the rest of his life. At just 18 years old, Robert Salo likely has a lot of $1,000 weeks to look forward to.
But huge news like this needs time to settle in. Salo told ABC News he couldn’t sleep the first night he knew he was the winner.
“I was up all night. Walking the halls, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t drink, I was just really excited.”
He’s remaining humble about the entire experience, though. Still keeping his day job, Salo was actually at work when ABC News tried to reach him. He only had a minute to chat with us.
A Brooklyn resident, Salo doesn’t often buy lottery tickets, but said he had a feeling about it this time.
“Something drew me to it,” he told the New York Lottery. “It was like I was in the right place at the right time.”
He bought the $2 scratch-off ticket May 14 at a convenience store in Coney Island. This week, he was presented with a $1,000,000 check at the same store – the first of many checks he’s set to get.
The 18-year-old is the youngest person to win this lottery prize. He could end up collecting as much as $3 million if he lives into his 80s.
“It feels like I’m living in a dream,” Salo said. “One minute, I’m driving around with my mom and uncle, and the next I’m yelling at them to pull over because I won a million dollars.”
The prize guarantees Salo a minimum payment of $1,000,000 over the next 20 years, and an annual check for $52,000 (net $32,398) a year for the rest of his life.
The high school senior says he’ll use the money to pay for college and help him pursue a career in electrical engineering. He does, however, have his eyes set on at least one new toy for himself.
“A BMW, of course, I gotta get around,” he laughed.
The prize comes as a big relief for Salo’s mother, who told the New York Daily News she wasn’t sure how she would pay for her son’s college education.
“We were kind of worried about paying for college,” she told the Daily News. “I said if I had to work two jobs, I would do it, but he’s going to the school he wants.”
As any proud mother would, Salo says his mom was delighted to learn about his winnings.
“She was very happy for me, just in disbelief, she gave me a hug and a kiss right away.”