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"I'm YOLANDA VEGA!" Lottery Queen Does More Than Announce The Numbers

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Schenectady, NY -

The New York Lottery is one of the oldest lotteries in the United States. For nearly three decades, Yolanda Vega has won over countless fans, sometimes called "The Lottery Queen."

Sitting in the dressing room at the lottery headquarters in Schenectady, Vega is anything but a diva. She shares this space with four other on-air talents. 

"Whoever is talent that day, this is their space," says Vega, "They can close the door, crank up whatever music they want."

On the day of our visit, Yolanda's makeup is on the counter and her clothes for the live drawing are hanging in a locker.

Yolanda Vega gets ready for the midday draw at NYS Lottery headquarters in Schenectady.

Her name has really become synonymous with the New York Lottery. That signature introduction, big personality, and winning smile reaches through television sets and make you feel like you really know her. This is what makes her so good at her job. A big part of it is handing out those big cardboard checks in person. Since winning the lottery means getting in front of news cameras, Vega says she tries to make the new millionaires feel comfortable.

“I find out how they feel about winning, what led up to the winning. I find out details about them and it makes them feel comfortable because they’re looking at me. Don't look at the audience, don't look at the camera, just talk to me," says Vega.

Vega watches back a run-through. She says she's always looking to improve.

She's part of a team, with a five announcers employed at the lottery. They all wear many hats.

“When I’m doing behind the scenes program manager, which is like the director on the set I call the shots,”  says Vega.

In the control room, John Schnurr, who also announces the winning numbers on camera is operating the graphics for the midday draw. 

“You just have to be ready for whatever is thrown at you," says Schnurr.

Part of Vega's job is training new announcers. She still recalls when she was new at the lottery. One day about six months into the job stands out in her memory.

“I came in and I had drank a lot of Puerto Rican espresso and I was pumped up," says Vega, “I said ‘With the New York Lottery I’m YOLAAANDA VEGAAAA.’ And they said ‘Woah, what are you doing?’ And I said ‘That’s who I am and I’m proud of who I am.’”  

Just being her is what landed her the job and what won the hearts of so many New Yorkers.