”It’s so exciting,” Nguyen said, per the Associated Press. ”I don’t know what to say.”
Vayo, an Illinois native who lives in San Francisco, took home more than $4.5 million for his second-place finish.
Nguyen, 39, was born in Vietnam but immigrated to the United States in 2001 at the age of 24, finding work as a nail technician at a nail salon in Orange County, Calif. He began playing small-stakes poker in 2003 and soon acquired the nickname “Tommy Gun” thanks to his aggressive style of play. Having won only $52,986 in career live earnings and cashing only once previously in a WSOP event, Nguyen won an entry into the WSOP main event through a $1,100 satellite event (the usual buy-in for the main event is $10,000).
According to ESPN, Nguyen plans to donate 10 percent of his winnings to help fight poverty and homelessness in his native Vietnam.
“[Average] Vietnamese family makes only $200 a month,” he said. “They are very poor and hungry. Some families don’t even have blankets, but I will make sure that they are taken care of. Whether I finish first or last, I plan to go to Vietnam to donate money to the poor.”
He also promised to donate 2.5 percent of his winnings to the Wounded Warrior Project, which helps out injured U.S. service members. Nguyen’s older brother, Duc, arrived in the United States in 1972, became a citizen and served in the Marines for 23 years before retiring in 2015 with a rank of major, earning multiple Purple Hearts for injuries suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I owe my brother a lot,” Qui told ESPN. “I’m not here in the U.S. without him. To honor him for serving [our] country, I’m going to donate to the Wounded Warrior Project and the Marines’ Toys for Tots, as well.”
Nguyen is the second Vietnamese-born winner of the WSOP main event, joining Scotty Nguyen, who won it all in 1998.