$338M lottery winner feels 'pure joy,' uncertainty
LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. (AP) — The New Jersey man who won the $338 million Powerball lottery says he felt "pure joy" at winning the huge jackpot, but he has no idea yet what he will do with the money — except maybe buy a car, to cut down on mileage on his feet.
Dominican immigrant Pedro Quezada, 45, appeared at New Jersey lottery headquarters Tuesday to officially claim the prize with his wife, Ines. Both came in jeans, accompanied by his four brothers and two nephews.
The former bodega owner-operator, who came to the United States from the city of Jarabacoa 26 years ago, said his mind is not clear enough yet to figure out how he will use the money.
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."
Lottery officials said Quezada had decided to accept the winnings in the form of a lump-sum payment worth $221 million, or about $152 million after taxes. It's the fourth-largest jackpot in Powerball history.
He 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, where he was peppered with questions about he would spend the money.
He was asked questions in Spanish and English and answered all the questions in Spanish, with a translator standing next to him.
When he realized he had won, he said, "I felt pure joy, just happiness."
Up until last year, Quezada had worked 15-hour days at a bodega in his adopted hometown of Passaic, in northern New Jersey. His son now runs the small grocery.
He said his bodega days are over, and given all the money he won, he doesn't plan to let his son keep working there, either.
When she got the call from him Monday, his wife of nine years said: "I had no words. ... My heart wanted to come out of my chest."
"All I can say is I feel very happy that God has blessed us with this prize," said Ines, who is from Tlaxcala, Mexico.
The largest Powerball jackpot ever came in at $587.5 million in November. 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.
Associated Press writer David Porter in Passaic contributed to this report.