Dominican Immigrant Feels "Pure Joy" From Powerball Win

By: CBS/AP (Posted by Melissa Brunner)
By: CBS/AP (Posted by Melissa Brunner)
Pedro Quezada holds up his $338 million Powerball jackpot check on Tuesday, March 26. / CBS News

Pedro Quezada holds up his $338 million Powerball jackpot check on Tuesday, March 26. / CBS News

(CBS News/AP) The Dominican immigrant who won the $338 million Powerball jackpot said Tuesday his head wasn't clear enough to decide what to do with his winnings, but knew he was going to help his "humble" family.

Pedro Quezada appeared at New Jersey lottery headquarters to officially claim the $338 million Powerball prize, his wife and brothers also in the room. The former shop owner from a working-class suburb of New York City has been in the U.S. for 26 years.

"I felt pure joy, just happiness," he said in Spanish, a translator by his side.

The numbers drawn Saturday were 17, 29, 31, 52, 53 and Powerball 31. If Quezada takes a lump-sum payment, it would be worth $221 million, or about $152 million after taxes. It's the fourth-largest jackpot in Powerball history.

Casiano, one of Quezada's five children, said his family plans to keep open the Passaic bodega they have run for years.

"I know he's going to do something good with the money," he said from behind the counter of the family bodega, the Apple Deli Grocery - maybe open another store.

"It's a blessing," he said. "It's something that happened and you just have to take it as it is."

Quezada's neighbors see a lot of themselves in the winner: hardworking, a family man, an immigrant, and someone who has known hard times.

That's why they were so thrilled that one of their own has won the lottery.

"This is super for all of us on this block," said Eladia Vazquez, who has lived across the street from Quezada's building for the past 25 years. Quezada and his family "deserve it because they are hardworking people."

The Quezada family's apartment sits at the end of a short dead end block that abuts a highway in Passaic, northwest of New York City.

The block has a half-dozen three-story brick apartment buildings on each side, and Vazquez said it's a neighborhood where everyone knows everyone, including what car they drive and what parking space they use.

Fellow Dominican immigrant Jose Gonzalez said he barbecues and plays dominoes with Quezada in the summers in a backyard on their street.

"He sometimes would work from six in the morning to 11 at night, so I did not see him much," Gonzalez said in Spanish Monday night. "I am happy for him. ... I don't know where he is now but I imagine he will drop by to say hi to his friends."

Neighbors told The Record newspaper that 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. The year before, a fire destroyed much of their bodega, they said. At the Tuesday press conference, Quezada said he didn't want to disucss it.

He also said he wasn't sure if he'd return to the Dominican Republic, stay in New Jersey or move elsewhere.

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.

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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