PASSAIC, New Jersey — A 44-year-old immigrant from the Dominican Republic is the winner of a $338 million Powerball lottery jackpot in the U.S., and he’s telling reporters in Spanish that he’s “very happy.”
Several media outlets were at the New Jersey liquor store, where the ticket was sold, on Monday when Pedro Quezada entered. They report that the store owner validated Quezada’s ticket as a winner. Reports also identified his home country.
The New Jersey Lottery confirmed that the winning ticket was validated at the store.
A lump sum payout would be $221 million, or about $152 million after taxes. It’s the fourth-largest jackpot in Powerball history.
Quezada told reporters that his first priority will be helping his family.
His wife, Ines Sanchez, told the Bergen Record that Quezada called her with the news Monday afternoon.
“I still can’t believe it,” she said. “We never expected it but thank God.”
The family’s apartment sits in Passaic, part of the working-class suburbs sprawling from New York City. Neighbors stood out in the rain Monday night and spoke with pride that one of their own had struck it rich.
Eladia Vazquez described Quezada and his wife as “quiet and not overly talkative” but sensed that they seemed to be working all the time.
“This is super for all of us on this block,” she said. “They deserve it because they are hardworking people.”
Alberto Liranzo, who lives two floors below Quezada, said the lottery winner has five children and owns a bodega in Passaic.
Dominican immigrant Jose Gonzalez said he barbecues and plays domino 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. “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.”
Richard Delgado, who lives down the block from Quezada’s building, said the man was “a hard worker, like all of us here. We all get up in the morning and go to work.”
No one had won the Powerball jackpot since early February.
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.