PASSAIC, N.J. (CBS/AP) — The son of a Dominican immigrant who won the $338 million Powerball jackpot said Tuesday he knows his father will “do something good with the money.”
As state lottery officials prepared to introduce the winner at lottery headquarters, Casiano Quezada also said his family plans to keep open the Passaic bodega they have run for years.
Quezada’s father, Pedro, showed up around 4:15 p.m. Monday at the liquor store in Passaic where he purchased the ticket to have it validated.
Lottery officials scheduled a news conference Tuesday afternoon to formally declare Pedro Quezada the winner.
Casiano said he is proud of his father and still in disbelief that he won the jackpot.
“I know he’s going to do something good with the money,” he said from behind the counter of the family bodega, the Apple Deli Grocery. His father might decide to open another store.
“It’s a blessing,” he said. “It’s something that happened and you just have to take it as it is.”
The family moved to the U.S. in the 1980s from the Dominican city of Jarabacoa, he said.
Pedro Quezada’s neighbors see a lot of themselves in the winner: hardworking, a family man, an immigrant, and someone who has known hard times.
That’s why they were so thrilled that one of their own has finally struck it rich.
“This is super for all of us on this block,” said Eladia Vazquez, who has lived across the street from Quezada’s building for the past 25 years. Quezada and his family “deserve it because they are hardworking people.”
Speaking in Spanish, Quezada, who has five children, told reporters at the grocery Monday that he was very happy and that he intends to help his family.
The numbers drawn Saturday were 17, 29, 31, 52, 53 and Powerball 31. A lump sum payout would be $221 million, or about $152 million after taxes. It’s the fourth-largest jackpot in Powerball history.
The Quezada family’s apartment sits at the end of a short dead end block that abuts a highway in Passaic, 15 miles northwest of New York City.
The block has a half-dozen three-story brick apartment buildings on each side, and Vazquez said it’s a neighborhood where everyone knows everyone, including what car they drive and what parking space they use.
Fellow Dominican immigrant Jose Gonzalez said he barbecues and plays dominoes with Quezada in the summers in a backyard on their street.
“He sometimes would work from six in the morning to 11 at night, so I did not see him much,” Gonzalez said in Spanish Monday night. “I am happy for him. … I don’t know where he is now but I imagine he will drop by to say hi to his friends.”
Neighbors told The Record newspaper that the Quezada family has suffered bad luck in recent years. Two years ago, thieves broke into their apartment and stole everything from clothing to jewelry. The year before, a fire destroyed much of their bodega, they said.
Quezada appeared at New Jersey lottery headquarters Tuesday afternoon to officially claim the prize. He appeared with his wife, Ines Sanchez, his four brothers, and two nephews. Quezada and his wife, who is from Tlaxcala (tlahs-KAH’-luh), Mexico, have been married nine years.
He was initially asked questions in Spanish and answered in Spanish before they were translated.
During the press conference, Quezada said when he found out he won he felt pure joy, but he’s not sure if he will stay in New Jersey.
The former bodega owner-operator says his mind is not clear enough yet to figure out what he will do with the money.
Lottery officials confirmed that Quezada decided to take the payment in one lump sum. He will receive about $221 million, or about $152 million after taxes.
The largest Powerball jackpot ever came in at $587.5 million in November. The winning numbers were picked on two different tickets — one by a couple in Missouri and the other by an Arizona man — and the jackpot was split.
Nebraska still holds the record for the largest Powerball jackpot won on a single ticket — $365 million — by eight workers at a Lincoln meatpacking plant in February 2006.
Powerball is played in 42 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The chance of matching all five numbers and the Powerball number is about 1 in 175 million.
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