New York

Yolanda Vega, the Longtime Face and Voice of NY State Lottery, Retires

NBC Universal, Inc.

For more than three decades, she made dreams come true — one number at a time, all with a big smile and an unmistakable voice.

After 32 years of being the face of the New York State lottery, Yolanda Vega said she's hanging up the microphone.

"It's been a long, beautiful ride," she told NBC New York over the phone.

Vega took some time to look back on her claim to fame, which made her one of the most recognizable TV voices for any longtime New Yorker. She said the signature way she introduced herself on the lottery drawings wasn't always so loved, however.

"I went in and I said 'I'm Yolaaaanda Vega,' and the director or producer who was timing it all said 'What are you doing? You're sucking up time,'" she said.

She's been presenting many lottery winners with checks since the 1990s, and her career has taken her all around the city and state. She even worked on a game show on WNBC with Storm Team 4's Janice Huff in the late 1990s.

Vega said seeing what the checks meant to the winners was the highlight of her job.

"Being with the lottery jackpot winners and presenting them their checks and seeing the joy and passion in their eyes is what fueled me," she said.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Vega earned her economics degree from Hunters College. She worked in finance before auditioning for the New York State Lottery on a whim

"And I was not 'Yolaaanda Vega' at the time. I was simply, 'Hi, I'm Yolanda Vega, and I;m interested in this position,'" she told News 4.

The rest is history, as her signature introduction transformed her into a New York icon. Those around the city said that hearing the lucky numbers without Vega will never be the same.

"I hope they have a good voice, because she's going to be big shoes to fill," said George Demarco, of the Upper West Side.

As for Vega, she's looking forward to more time with family, including her grandson, 5-month-old Isaiah. The New York legend is now taking a step back to count her own winnings for a change.

"I've always been identified with my job, but now I'm truly my own Yolaaanda Vega," she said.

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