"I always feel like I'm going to win."
Of course he does - it's Enrique Iglesias on the other end of the line, after all.
He's talking about his fondness for blackjack and that initial spark of optimism when sitting down to play, the catalyst of many empty pockets, but he may as well be speaking about his life in general.
This is a dude who initially went to college, at the University of Miami, for a degree in business before entering the family business and becoming one of the biggest Latin music stars ever, selling more than 100 million records since beginning his singing career in the early '90s.
He set the record for the most No. 1 Spanish-language singles on Billboard's Hot Latin Tracks chart, 22 in all, and is one of the few artists of his ilk to cross over with platinum-selling English-language albums as well.
So the guy is used to things going his way, and as such, there's a loose, easy-going air about Iglesias, a palpable lack of edge befitting someone who doesn't want for much.
He's a genial, chatty presence, asking almost as many questions as those that are posed to him during the course of a 30-minute conversation.
On this afternoon, he has a day off from his current co-headlining tour with Jennifer Lopez and is relaxing on the couch with his dog.
Iglesias and Lopez are a natural match: Both are two of the leading gateway acts in terms of taking Latin music influences and infusing them in nontraditional forms, be it hip-hop or R&B in Lopez's case or Top 40 pop and dance music, in Iglesias' case.
Iglesias has notched 10 No. 1 singles on the Billboard dance chart, prefacing the music's recent infiltration in the pop mainstream.
"I remember many years ago, when dance music wasn't as influential in the U.S., but you saw it coming," he says. "You would go to a club and you would see how the crowd would react to songs that were huge in the dance scene, like in Europe, that you wouldn't hear on Top 40 radio.
"I remember, at times, talking to some of the label people, saying, 'Man, there's something in dance music. All you need is one song and then it's going to unite with urban music or hip-hop or R&B,' which is exactly what's happened," he continues. "I remember the label telling me, 'There's only one spot for one dance song a year.' Now, you see it everywhere."
While Iglesias has long scored hits with both Spanish and English language tunes, it's only recently that he combined the two on a single album.
His most recent disc, 2010's "Euphoria," was his first bilingual record.
"It's a big experiment," he says. "I had done that a few years ago prior to that, and the record company never wanted to put it out because they thought, 'We don't think this is going to work.' "
For his part, Iglesias had his doubts as well - at least initially.
He acknowledges that it requires a different way of thinking as a songwriter when penning a tune in English as opposed to Spanish.
"What I realized is that when you try to do translations, whether it's Spanish to English or English to Spanish, sometimes it works, but most of the time it doesn't," he says. "There's just songs that are meant to be sung in English and there's songs that were just meant to be sung in Spanish. Some songs have more of a lyrical approach in Spanish and some songs in English have more of a melodic approach. There's a lot of words that don't translate well, there's a lot of melodies that just don't fit well. It's hard to combine both of them."
Mixing the two, then, seemed like a risk.
"That, for me, was the biggest concern when I did my last album," Iglesias notes. "I said, 'Man, the English songs and the Spanish songs are so, so different. How are they going to go on an album (together)?' That was my biggest concern until I listened to all the songs and I said, 'You know what? That's actually the cool thing: That they're so far, far apart from each other.' I think that's what makes the album interesting. It wasn't a thing where I said, 'OK, this is what I need strategically, this is what's good for my career.' It was because when I would listen to the English songs and the Spanish songs, it wouldn't bore me."
The gamble has paid off: To date, "Euphoria" has sold more than 4 million copies worldwide with its mix of sweetly sung romantic ballads and heavy breathing electropop thump.
It's kept Iglesias' public profile perilously high. And despite being the son of superstar Julio Iglesias and being no stranger to the trappings of fame, he doesn't sound entirely comfortable with his celebrity status.
Iglesias is not guarded about much, but at the same time, he clearly doesn't relish speaking about his private life or perpetually being the center of attention.
And yet, as an international heartthrob, he knows that he's expected to smile for the camera on a daily basis.
"The only time where it might frustrate me a little bit is when somebody's taking a picture when I'm about to stick something in my mouth," Iglesias says. "Then I think about it and say, 'Don't get mad.' I should only be mad the day that they don't want to take a picture."
Maybe that's why he sounds so at peace today.
Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476.