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Palm Harbor man will use $1 million lottery winnings for honeymoon, tuition

PALM HARBOR — What would you do with a million dollars?

For one Palm Harbor man, the question is not a hypothetical.

Vasilios Vassos, 38, won the prize in the Florida Lottery, matching 5 out of 5 numbers in Saturday's drawing.

While a cool mil' doesn't go as far as it used to, Vassos said the amount is plenty to make life better for himself and his family, and to enjoy some of the things he and his wife, Ariana, missed out on in their youth.

"We're finally going to take our honeymoon," Vassos said.

Caribbean cruise, check.

His daughter's college education, he said, will be paid for — she wants to go to USF.

Tuition, double check.

And his mother-in-law, who Vassos said is at risk of losing her house, will get to stay put.

"If she wants it, I'm going to help out," Vassos said.

A day trader by profession, Vassos said he will invest part of his winnings and start a nonprofit, perhaps in education.

"A lot of people losing their shirts. I'd like to help," he said.

Vassos discovered he had won when he went to check his ticket at a supermarket.

"I yelled out in Publix to my wife, 'We won a million dollars!' "

Vassos said the manager came up and told him: "You might want to keep that down," in order to ensure Vassos' security and safety.

But Vassos said he quipped back, with noticeable volume, that it was okay: "I have a gun." But not really — the statement was merely to deter anyone from attempting to steal his ticket.

Ordinarily, Vassos' take would have been $200,000 — but since he spent an extra $1 on the ticket's "Power Play" modifier, his winnings were increased fivefold.

The winning ticket, with numbers 2-7-16-20-46, was sold at Palm Harbor Shell, 32400 U.S. 19 N.

Vassos' winnings would have been much higher — $59 million — if he had also picked the correct Powerball number, which was 34.

Since luck has been on his side, Vassos believes lightning will strike twice.

He wants to continue playing the lottery until he wins a multimillion-dollar jackpot.

Until then, he plans on savoring the recent win — and catching up on sleep.

"It's a happy feeling, to be sure. But I haven't slept much since," Vassos said.

Dominick Tao can be reached at dtao@sptimes.com or (727) 580-2951.

Palm Harbor man will use $1 million lottery winnings for honeymoon, tuition 10/26/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 8:00pm]
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