By David Porter Associated Press
PASSAIC, N.J. — The winner of a $338 million Powerball jackpot told several media outlets Monday that his first priority will be helping his family.
Pedro Quezada, 44, entered Eagle Liquors store, where the ticket was sold, late Monday afternoon. The Passaic store owner ran Quezada’s ticket through the lottery machine to validate that it was a winner as a newspaper and television outlets recorded the moment.
The New Jersey Lottery confirmed that the winning ticket was validated at the store at 4:30 p.m. Monday, but officials said they didn’t yet know the winner’s name.
Quezada, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, told reporters in Spanish that he was “very happy” and that he intends to help 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 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 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. Neighbors stood out in the rain Monday night and spoke with pride that one of their own had struck it rich.
Eladia Vazquez has lived across the street from Quezada’s building for the past 25 years. The block has a half-dozen three-story brick apartment buildings on each side, and Vazquez says it’s a neighborhood where everyone knows everyone, including what car they drive and what parking space they use.
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.”
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.”
Delgado said he got up Sunday morning and was going to take his dog for a walk when he heard the radio announce the Powerball results.
“When I heard there was one winner and it was in New Jersey, I immediately went and checked my tickets,” Delgado said. “I wanted to be that guy.”
When asked what it would be like to suddenly win such a large amount, Delgado said a person would have to set priorities.
“No. 1 is your health, because if you don’t have that, the rest doesn’t matter,” he said. “No. 2 is your family. You take care of your own and live the rest of your life in peace. That’s all anyone can do.”
No one had won the Powerball jackpot since early February, when Dave Honeywell in Virginia bought the winning ticket and elected a cash lump sum for his $217 million jackpot.
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.