Robert Salo, 18, didn't think twice about following his gut when he plunked down $2 to play New York Lottery's "Win for Life" scratch-off game last week.
No one could have guessed he'd beat the 1 in 7,896,000 odds to become the game's youngest winner.
After coming forward Tuesday, the high school senior is $1 million richer and all set to receive $1,000 payments each week for the rest of his life.
What sets Salo apart from most of the lotto winners we've covered on this site isn't his age, but the fact that he plans to put the money toward one of the smartest investments out there.
"I'm definitely going to use it for college," Salo said in a recent interview with the NY Daily News, adding that he plans to attend an out-of-state school. "I'm going to invest in myself."
Perhaps some would argue with that decision, pointing to soaring tuition costs and well-paying jobs that don't require a degree. But others, like Shawna Machado, 40, are so convinced a degree is worthwhile that even homelessness couldn't hold them back.
"I panicked knowing that I wasn't degreed in anything," she told Your Money reporter Mandi Woodruff of her decision to earn a degree in Psychology. "I didn't know how I'd be able to get another job. I applied for everything, medical jobs and retail jobs ... I was called for about three interviews."
Salo, who lives in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn with his single mother, a sibling and an uncle, wasn't sure himself if he'd ever afford college. Like many students forced to take out large loans, Salo may have had to settle for studying near home or at a community college that didn't align with his goals in order to save money.
But thanks to the lottery, his dream of pursuing a career in electrical engineering seems to be coming true. Maybe scratch-off tickets aren't such a waste of money after all.
Now see what to do when you win the lottery >
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