Thomas Pomponio outlasted over 18,000 other players to win $1 million in the third running of the Colossus at the World Series of Poker. The butcher from New Jersey previous largest cash was $24,000 in a 2011 PCA Heads-Up event.

“It feels pretty good, not gonna lie” Pomponio said after winning. “It’s pretty surreal.”

“Well, you know I come to every tournament thinking I can win. I know it’s not a reality but I play the best I can and make all the right the moves to give myself a chance,” he continued. “Day 1 – right from the start I was able to increase my stack and have room to play some more pots.”

“I ended up Day 1 just under 300K – which was my fourth bullet” he said. “Day 2 I ended with 4.2 million – right from the start I went to 300K to 800K in the first hour. I never really had a small stack to grind out – until the start of the final day where I had 20 bigs. I ran well at the start and then it just took off.”

Pomponio was joined at the final table by notables Luke Vrabel, Matt Affleck and Ralph Massey – who busted 9th, 8th, and 7th respectively.

“At the start of Day 3, there were 41 players and I told myself there’s only 40 players between me and a million bucks and a bracelet,” Pomponio continued. “In your life you’re not gonna have too many chances in your life to win a million bucks, now I had to outlast 40 players. So, that’s how I thought of it.“

Pomponio is known among New Jersey players and received an overwhelming amount of support from the East Coast. “Yeah, my Jersey guys were sweating me the on the table. My phone is blowing up, I can’t even react to everyone,” he said.

“I try to play as much as I can (online). I have a girlfriend and a full-time job,” he said. “I play at least twice a week online for tournaments.”

“I’m a butcher – the first butcher bracelet winner probably,” he said. “I’m supposed to fly home and work on Saturday and I’m man of principle and don’t want to miss work.”

“I might call my boss and ask if I can Saturday off. I don’t know what I’m going to do from here – I sold some small percentages to friends, then taxes, so I don’t know what I’m going to do.”