Ezequiel Pereira got his first computer when he was 10, took an initial programming class when he was 11 and then spent years teaching himself different coding languages and techniques. In 2016, Google flew him to its California headquarters after he won a coding contest.
"I found something almost immediately that was worth $500 and it just felt so amazing," Pereira told CNBC. "So I decided to just keep trying ever since then."
His sporadic poking around has finally paid off in a big way: Google just awarded the Uruguayan teenager $36,337 for finding a vulnerability that would have allowed him to make changes to internal company systems.
Although Pereira found the bug earlier this year, he only just got permission to write about how he discovered it this week, after Google confirmed that it had fixed the issue.
It marks Pereira's fifth accepted bug, but it's by far his most lucrative.
"It feels really good — I'm glad that I found something that was so important," he said.
In February, Pereira started college for computer engineering in his hometown of Montevideo. When he's finished with his homework and doesn't feel like hanging out with friends or watching videos, he'll whip out his computer and start hunting.