At 4:30 p.m. Monday, Pedro Quezada stood by, along with newspaper and television personnel, as the owner of Eagle Liquors in Passaic, N.J. ran Quezada’s $338 million Powerball ticket through a lottery machine, confirming it was, in fact, a winner.
Quezada, 44, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, told reporters in Spanish that he was "very happy" he had won and that his first priority will be to help his family. When he called his wife, Ines Sanchez, with the news Monday afternoon, she said, “I still can't believe it. We never expected it, but thank God.”
The Lottery winner and his family live in Passaic on a dead-end street abutting a highway. The block, with a half dozen three-story brick apartment buildings on each side, is 15 miles northwest of New York City.
Quezada’s neighbor, Eladia Vazquez, who has lived in the neighborhood for 25 years, said it’s a place where everyone knows everyone else, including what car they drive and where they park.
Vazquez described Quezada and his wife as quiet people who seemed to be working all the time, and added, “This is super for all of us on this block; they deserve it because they are hardworking people.”
Alberto Liranzo, who lives two floors below Quezada, said that the Powerball winner has five children and owns a bodega in Passaic.
Another neighbor, Jose Gonzalez, said of Quezada in Spanish, “He sometimes would work from six in the morning to eleven at night; so I did not see him much. 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.”
Quezada’s winnings, with a lump-sum payout of $221 million (approximately $152 million after taxes), represent the fourth-largest jackpot in Powerball history.
Early in February, Dave Honeywell bought the winning $217 million jackpot Powerball ticket in Virginia.
The winning numbers for the largest Powerball jackpot in history came in on two different tickets in November—one from a couple in Missouri and the other from a man in Arizona—who split the $587.5 million winnings.
In February 2006, eight workers at a Lincoln meatpacking plant in Nebraska won the largest single-ticket Powerball jackpot in history—$365 million.
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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