Skip to main content

Jersey man wins Powerball, promises to help others

By Ashley Fantz, CNN
updated 6:57 AM EDT, Wed March 27, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Pedro Quezada says the money is a "gift from God"
  • NEW: It'll change his life, but not his heart, says the Dominican immigrant and deli owner
  • NEW: Quezada moved to the United States when he was 19
  • NEW: He has five children, ages 5-23, and one granddaughter

(CNN) -- He claimed he won the prize this week, and now it's official: Pedro Quezada of New Jersey is the winner of Saturday's $338 million Powerball jackpot, the New Jersey Lottery said Tuesday.

Quezada announced on Monday that he held the winning ticket, but the final word from lottery officials didn't come until Tuesday.

"I felt pure joy, just happiness," Quezada, a Dominican immigrant and deli owner, told reporters at a news conference Tuesday.

"It's a gift from God," he said.

NJ man wins $338 million Powerball pot

Undoubtedly, his life will change. But the money "won't change my heart," Quezada said.

He said he was walking to work Monday and saw a crowd at a liquor store in Passaic, New Jersey. He'd bought his Powerball ticket there, so he thought he should go in to see who won. He had his ticket with him, and showed it to the clerk, who checked it and told him he was the winner.

Laughing, he recalled leaving the store and going to "hide." He said he was nervous Monday night. "I couldn't close my eyes," the father of five said in Spanish, relying on a translator throughout the news conference.

"I never thought I would win such a prize," Quezada said.

Quezada chose the up-front cash option, instead of an annuity, when he bought his ticket. The lump sum is $211 million. But after federal and state taxes, he will net about $151 million, Carole Hedinger, executive director of the New Jersey Lottery, has said.

For winner, unexpected change can come with those dollars

One reporter asked whether he planned to stay in New Jersey, while others inquired whether he wanted to return to the Dominican Republic to celebrate with family and friends. Quezada said he moved to the United States when he was 19.

"I don't know," he said. "I have to think about it, my mind is not clear yet."

When asked if he plans to keep working, he said no, recalling long days that started at 5 in the morning. And his son who works at the deli won't continue either, Quezada said.

"Of course, my family's a very humble family, and we're going to help each other out," he said.

Quezada is married and has five children, ages 5-23, and one granddaughter. His wife, who is from Mexico, also spoke at the news conference, saying she didn't have words when her husband first broke the news.

Quezada said he might buy a car with part of his winnings.

A reporter asked him what kind of car he has now. "My feet," he answered, laughing.

He said he wants to help people with his winnings. "I don't know exactly how, but I will help those in need," he said.

Quezada's ticket matched all six numbers drawn Saturday night: 17, 29, 31, 52, 53 and the Powerball, 31.

The largest jackpot in Powerball history was $587.5 million. The lottery is held in 42 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Washington.

Why you keep playing the lottery

CNN's Dana Ford and Stephanie Gallman contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:46 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The tragic killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a bitter public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
updated 8:27 AM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
North Korea warns the United States that U.S. "citadels" will be attacked, dwarfing the hacking attack on Sony that led to the cancellation of a comedy film's release.
updated 9:51 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it's never looked better.
updated 11:21 AM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
More than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation, Unicef has warned.
updated 8:22 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
Boko Haram's latest abductions may meet a weary global reaction, Nigerian journalist Tolu Ogunlesi says.
updated 5:34 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
Drops, smudges, pools of blood are everywhere -- but in the computer room CNN's Nic Robertson reels from the true horror of the Peshawar school attack.
updated 9:43 PM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
updated 4:48 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
updated 3:27 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
updated 9:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
updated 12:01 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT