Newfound Security

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

James Hayes woke up a multimillionaire Thursday morning.

The 35-year-old Camarillo resident learned that he won $19 million in the SuperLotto jackpot just hours after he had finished his graveyard shift as a security guard supervisor.

It didn't take Hayes long to adjust to his new life.

He plans to buy a new car. He is already house hunting in Camarillo's ritzy Spanish Hills development. And, he has given his two weeks' notice to quit his job.

"Wouldn't you?" said a smirking Hayes.

"I'm not going to blow the money," he added. "I know I'll change. But only for the better. . . . Mainly what I want to do is help out my family and friends in need."

Hayes, the second-largest Ventura County lottery winner ever, will receive annual payments of $684,000 after taxes for the next 20 years. Oxnard resident Dolores Trejo became the county's biggest winner one year ago this month, when she pocketed a $34-million jackpot.

"It's kinda hard to grasp, but it's a lot," Hayes said of his winnings. "I've had a string of bad luck lately."

But his successful 18,009,460-to-1 shot has broken that streak.

The money, the Ventura native said, will be enough to get the IRS off his back. Take a vacation, perhaps to Hawaii. And fix his beloved, but expensive-to-care-for 1968 Chevrolet Camaro.

"I don't have a savings account," Hayes said, with a rueful grin. "I have a restored muscle car."

The regular lottery player purchased his Quick Pick ticket at the USA gas station on Camarillo's Central Avenue about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, during his shift at Dial Security. He is a regular at the gas station, where Dial has an account, said manager Diane Ricketson, who routinely has Hayes' pack of Marlboro Lights awaiting him at the counter.

Blissfully unaware of his multimillionaire status after the drawing just 30 minutes later, Hayes worked his shift, went to bed about 4:30 a.m., and his wife went off to her job at a Los Angeles security company.

His 79-year-old grandmother, Melba, got up and checked the ticket numbers in the newspaper about 6 a.m., as is her custom, and immediately awoke her grandson.

He called Ricketson at the gas station with the news.

"I said, 'You want to take me out tonight?' " Ricketson said. "He said, 'No, I'm married.' . . . At least I tried."

The commission for selling the winning SuperLotto ticket is $95,000. The money is likely to go to the Agoura Hills-based company that owns the station, Ricketson said, although she and other employees are hoping for a share.

It wasn't until Hayes ventured to the regional lottery office and talked to staff that his new status began to sink in.

Now he and his wife can afford to have children. Hayes plans to eventually start his own automobile-related business. And he will keep playing the lottery, just in case lightning strikes twice.

"I'd just like to say, for all those disbelievers out there--keep trying," he said.

"I was very happy before this," Hayes added. "This just tops it off."

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