The preeminent and highly popular voice that New Yorkers and many nationwide loved, Yolanda Vega, has officially retired from her decades-long position as an announcer with the state’s lottery commission.
As reported on Wednesday by the New York Times(January 26th), the Twitter account for New York Lottery announced that Vega, the star announcer with the distinctive introduction “I’m Yo-LAHNNN-da Vega!” that fans across the state symbolized with hitting the jackpot retired. The tweet read, “Yolanda Vega, our iconic Draw Team member, has retired after an incredible 32 years. We truly hit the jackpot by having her as a part of the New York Lottery family. Let’s send her off in the comments below by posting our favorite Yolanda Vega memories. #pleaseplayresponsibly” It was accompanied by three snapshots of Ms. Vega from various points in her career. The news compelled many to share their fond recollections of her through the years.
Ms. Vega became synonymous with the New York Lottery, appearing as the announcer reading the winning numbers for the Powerball, Mega Millions and turning down network anchor roles to stay on. In that role, she became a relatable celebrity whose fame even landed her an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show in 1994. She came to work for the New York Lottery in 1990 after working as an accountant and nailed an audition to read the winning numbers. With regards to her famous introduction, she states that it was born out of a moment of spontaneity. “I came in and I had drank a lot of Puerto Rican espresso and I was pumped up,” she said in an interview with local network FOX40. “I said, ‘With the New York Lottery, I’m YOLAAANDA VEGAAAA.’” And I said, ‘That’s who I am and I’m proud of who I am.’ It wasn’t received well at first, as a program director warned her that “stretching your name is sucking up seconds of valuable time.” For Ms. Vega, a native of Red Hook, Brooklyn who grew up in public housing with a fierce sense of pride in her Boricua heritage, that didn’t cut it for her. “I said, ‘I’m proud of who I am,’ and I continued to be true to myself and I continued to do it.”
After a career that saw her appear on millions of TV screens, the 66-year old is looking forward to spending more time with her first grandchild.