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Passaic $338M Powerball Winner: Money ‘Will Not Change My Heart’

Pedro Quezada Says He Needs A New Car And Wants To 'Help Those In Need'
Pedro Quezada (credit: CBS 2)

Pedro Quezada (credit: CBS 2)

LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A New Jersey man who won Saturday’s $338 million Powerball jackpot claimed his prize Tuesday, becoming the Garden State’s newest multimillionaire.

Pedro Quezada appeared at New Jersey Lottery headquarters with his wife and children, who range in age from 5 to 23 years old.

“My life has changed,” he told reporters in Spanish through a translator. “But [the money] will not change my heart.”

The former bodega owner-operator said his mind is not clear enough yet to figure out what he will do with the money. When asked if he could think of any uses, he said he could use a good car. Asked what kind of car he has now, he said, “My feet.”

He also said he wanted to give back to his community and “help those in need.”

Quezada said he did not know in what form he would take his winnings. A lump-sum payment would be worth $221 million, or about $152 million after taxes, the fourth-largest jackpot in Powerball history.

Carole Hedinger, executive director of the New Jersey Lottery Commission, said the payout comes to exactly $151,939,117.

“I feel very lucky because God has blessed us with this prize,” Quezada’s wife, Ines, said.

Quezada showed up late Monday at the liquor store in Passaic where he purchased the ticket to see if he had the winner. The ticket was validated at 4:17 p.m., giving him less than 24 hours to weigh his future as a multimillionaire before appearing at the news conference.

When he realized he had won, he said, “I felt pure joy, just happiness.”

Reporters who were looking for lucky winner on Monday night wanted to know where Quezada went after validating the ticket.

“Well, I had to hide,” he told reporters, including CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis.

Up until last year, Quezada had worked 15-hour days for years at his Passaic bodega. He said his bodega days are over, and given all the money he won, he doesn’t plan to let his son, Casiano Quezada, keep working there, either.

Earlier Tuesday, Casiano Quezada said their family plans to keep the store open.

Pedro Quezada has been in the country 26 years. The family moved to the U.S. in the 1980s from the Dominican city of Jarabacoa.

Neighbors said 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.

In 2009, the family had to rebuild after suffering a devastating fire that almost destroyed their bodega.

“That’s why I don’t want to speak about it because my life has changed,” Pedro Quezada said.

Now, the family’s luck has changed with its Powerball success.

“It’s a blessing for the neighborhood,” resident Daphne Robinson told The Record. “It gives people hope that there is a blessing somewhere, for somebody.”

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.

Quezada was a faithful Powerball player, buying tickets and a couple of beers every day from Eagle Liquors, CBS 2’s Don Dahler reported. There was no word Tuesday on whether he will keep trying his luck now that he has struck it rich.

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