The many tales of lottery winnings squandered, where ruined over-night millionaires are forced to sell Lamborghinis to make rent, didn’t faze Belinda Poblete. She bought a Honda SUV, renovated her kitchen, and did something that was both daunting and undeniably levelheaded: she purchased a Red Mango Yogurt Café Smoothie and Juice Bar franchise.
This past May, Poblete did exhibit a bit of reckless abandon, however. Instead of playing her go-to Powerball, she asked the cashier at a Super 7 Express in Sloatsburg, New York, for a CASH4LIFE ticket. She jotted down six random numbers, no anniversaries or birthdays, and headed home. The next day at her job, a place Poblete spent the past decade working on medical billing, her mother called and dropped the shocker. “I was thinking should I go home? Maybe they’re lying,” the 39-year-old says. “Maybe not."
Poblete, a native of the Philippines, was at her office for less than an hour before she phoned her supervisor and decided it might be a wise idea to cut out early. She sat at home staring at the numbers online, searching, Googling, searching again, until it finally settled in.
She chose the lump sum because, in her words, she doesn’t “know if I’m going to live for long.” That balanced out to $4,632,600. Even though Poblete never experienced this sort of wealth in her life, she understood the danger of sitting at home, stewing over a miracle. That’s why Poblete stood up and decided she needed something to do—a reason to get dressed, cross the bridge, and plot a day that didn’t involve parking on the couch and spending her money.
So why Red Mango? One of Poblete’s friends is a franchisee of the Dallas-based brand that has more than 300 locations across the U.S., Mexico, El Salvador, and Uruguay. Also, she describes herself as a “health-minded person,” and the company’s ideals line up with hers. They specialize in all-natural frozen yogurt, light foods, and fresh-squeezed, ice-filtered juices. Her location, set to open in Nanuet this summer, will showcase the expanded concept, currently being unrolled nationwide.
Poblete sent in her application and received a quick response from Rudy Frederico, the director of franchise development for the brand. As far as she knows, Red Mango had never heard from a lottery winner before.
“We’re excited to welcome Belinda to the Red Mango family,” Frederico says in a statement. “We look forward to working with her to build her business and offer the community of Nanuet a perfect place to sit back, relax and dig in—spoon first.”
First things first, Poblete had never run her own business. She says Red Mango assured her during the interview process they would guide her through the experience.
“It’s not really retirement. It’s changing careers,” she says. “I really work hard. So why not work hard for your own?”
Red Mango requires its franchisees to have a net worth of $350,000 and available liquid capital of $200,000.
In addition to this being a flexible, productive life choice, Poblete is looking forward to learning on the job. She plans to dive in and learn the business first-hand before hiring somebody she trusts to direct the operation. From there, she really doesn’t know what to expect. “Everything is a risk,” she says. “I don’t know [what I’m looking forward to]. I’m just hoping this will work out.”
By Danny Klein