Says 44-Year-Old, Married Father Of 5 From Dominican Republic Has Hit It Big

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — He hit the jackpot!

Late Monday afternoon Pedro Quezada, 44, reportedly walked into the Eagles Liquor in Passaic and checked to see if he had the sole winning ticket for Saturday’s $338.3 million Powerball drawing.

No one has seen Quezada since he claimed he won the lottery. If he is in fact the winner, the lump sum cash payout would be $221 million, or about $152 million after taxes.

But the store owner said that Quezada did indeed buy the winning ticket.

“He ran that ticket through the machine and the machine approved it — it says ‘jackpot,'” Sunil Sethi told 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon.

Quezada, a married father of five from the Dominican Republic, has his own bodega about two blocks from the liquor store where he bought the winning ticket.

As CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, the winner’s son, Cassiano Quezada, locked up his family’s bodega Monday night — still in shock about his father’s apparent fortune.

“I’m really happy right now,” Cassiano Quezada said.

Pedro Quezada said he would first use his winnings to take care of his family. His brother, Rene Vasquez, was elated.

“I’m very happy,” Vasquez said.

Quezada’s own faithful customers said the modest store owner deserves the prize — the fourth largest jackpot in Powerball history.

“I think they’re going to disappear now. I don’t think they’re going to hang around here,” said customer Nino Rodriguez. “But you never know.”

But Pedro Quezada’s son said his family plans to stick around the neighborhood, at least for now.

Cassiano Quezada said “of course” his father will keep working.

Meanwhile, one employee at the store where Pedro Quezada apparently bought the ticket said Quezada had been coming in every day at 7 p.m. and buying three mini Coronas and a couple of lottery tickets, 1010 WINS’ Rincon reported.

Sethi said he was still pinching himself Monday after state lottery officials told him the winning ticket was sold at his business.

Pedro Quezada (credit: CBS 2)

Pedro Quezada (credit: CNN)

“I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it — so excited,” Sethi told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg. “Like that dream came true.”

Liquor store employee Pravin Mankodia showed CBS 2 proof positive that the jackpot ticket was claimed and validated in his shop when Pedro Quezada was there, shortly after 4 p.m. He said he felt lucky to have been behind the counter.

“Everybody’s happy,” Mankodia told CBS 2’s Emily Smith. “I’m happy, customers [are] happy!”

Customers have been so happy that there has been a surge in tickets sold, with some people hoping there is a little luck left over for them. Last year, the little liquor store sold a winning Take Five ticket for $150,000.

Eagle Liquors employee Pravin Mankodia sold the winning Powerball ticket (credit: Alex Silverman/WCBS 880)

Eagle Liquors employee Pravin Mankodia sold the winning Powerball ticket (credit: Alex Silverman/WCBS 880)

Prior to lottery officials making the official announcement Monday morning, the manager of a Love’s Truck and Travel Store in Bordentown near Trenton said a trucker had called him late Sunday night claiming that he had the lucky numbers.

“Somebody may have called the place in Bordentown and talked about claiming a ticket and perhaps somebody jumped to a conclusion,” said New Jersey Lottery Executive Director Carole Hedinger.

The numbers drawn were 17, 29, 31, 52, 53 and Powerball 31. A lump sum payout would be $221 million. The winnings would be $152 million after taxes, Sandberg reported. The store will receive $10,000.

Store copy of winning ticket. (credit: Sonia Rincon, 1010 WINS)

Store copy of winning ticket. (credit: Sonia Rincon, 1010 WINS)

Lottery officials said 13 tickets worth $1 million apiece were sold in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia, respectively.

It’s not the first time the Garden State has had major money winners.

In April of 2002, Jorge and Joanne Lopes won $331 million, playing the Big Game. Harold & Elaine Messner of Cape May won half of a $390 million Mega Millions jackpot in 2007. Sandra McNeil was New Jersey’s first Powerball jackpot winner, winning $211.7 million in 2010.

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