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Immigrant wins $338M Powerball jackpot in U.S.

11:18 PM, Mar 25, 2013   |    comments
Store employee Pravin Mankodia stands outside Eagles Liquors in Passaic, N.J. Monday, March 25, 2013. Mankodia sold the winning $338 million Powerball ticket that was claimed by an unidentified New Jersey Resident. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz) ORG XMIT: NJRS104(Photo: Rich Schultz AP)
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(USA TODAY) -- A 44-year-old immigrant from the Dominican Republic is the winner of a $338 million Powerball lottery jackpot.

Pedro Quezada was told he won the $338 million jackpot when he walked into the Eagle Liquors in Passiac, N.J., to check his ticket Monday, the New York Daily News reported.

Customers in the store erupted in cheers as Quezada called his wife.

"I'm the millionaire, Ines, put on the TV so you can see me, or come down to the liquor store right now," the Daily News reported that an emotional Quezada shouted.

Pedro Quezada told reporters that his first priority will be helping 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 family's apartment sits in Passaic, part of the working-class suburbs sprawling from 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 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."

A liquor store in Passaic, N.J., claimed its own $10,000 prize after state lottery officials announced Monday that Eagle Liquors sold the sole winning ticket for Saturday's jackpot.

"Everyone was excited when we found out this morning we sold the ticket," said Eagles Liquors owner Sunil Sethi.

Sethi is already a winner -- outlets that sell Powerball jackpot winners claim a $10,000 bonus. He said he would use some of the money to fix up the store and share some with his employees.

That will even make a winner out of Sunniy Mokida, who has worked at the store for 7 years. Mokida said the store has been swamped with media and well-wishers. Even a small part of the bonus would make it worthwhile, he said.

"It's all been very exciting," Mokida said. Added Pravin Mankodia, who sold the ticket: "It feels awesome, we feel so lucky."

A lump sum payout would be $221 million, which minus taxes would still leave the winner with $152 million, Hedinger said.

The winning numbers: 17, 29, 31, 52, 53 and Powerball 31. It's the fourth-largest jackpot in Powerball history.

Other Powerball players also stand to get rich. One Powerball ticket that matched five numbers, sold in Iowa, is good for $2 million. Spreading the wealth even further, 13 tickets worth a cool $1 million each were sold in 11 states. Florida and Pennsylvania each had two; Arizona, Illinois, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, South Carolina and Virginia had one each.

No one had won the Powerball jackpot since Virginian Dave Honeywell bought a winning ticket worth $217 million at a vending machine in Richmond International Airport more than a month ago.

The largest U.S. jackpot of any kind was a $656 million Mega Millions pot, won March 30, 2012, and split by winners in Maryland, Illinois and Kansas.

The largest Powerball jackpot ever, $587.5 million in November, was split between an Arizona man and a Missouri couple. The largest Powerball jackpot won by a single ticket was $365 million claimed in Nebraska in February 2006. But even that one was split -- eight workers at a Lincoln, Neb., meatpacking plant had pooled their funds.

Powerball is played in 42 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The chance of hitting all five numbers and the Powerball number is about 1 in 175 million.


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