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.
Quezada's neighbors see a lot of themselves in the jackpot winner: hardworking, a family man, an immigrant, and someone who has known hard times.
That's why they're so thrilled that one of their own has finally struck it rich.
“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 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.
The Quezada family's apartment sits at the end of a short dead end block that abuts a highway in Passaic, 15 miles northwest of New York City.
The block has a half-dozen three-story brick apartment buildings on each side, and Vazquez says it's a neighborhood where everyone knows everyone, including what car they drive and what parking space they use.
Alberto Liranzo, who lives two floors below Quezada, said the lottery winner has five children and owns a bodega in Passaic.
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 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.
Now, the family's luck has changed with their 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.”
Richard Delgado, who lives down the block from Quezada's building, also described Quezada as “a hard worker, like all of us here. We all get up in the morning and go to work.”
Delgado said he got up Sunday morning and was going to take his dog for a walk when he heard the radio announce the Powerball results.
“When I heard there was one winner and it was in New Jersey, I immediately went and checked my tickets,” Delgado said. “I wanted to be that guy.”
When asked what it would be like to suddenly win such a large amount, Delgado said a person would have to set priorities.
“No. 1 is your health, because if you don't have that, the rest doesn't matter,” he said. “No. 2 is your family. You take care of your own and live the rest of your life in peace. That's all anyone can do.”
No one had won the Powerball jackpot since early February, when Dave Honeywell in Virginia bought the winning ticket and elected a cash lump sum for his $217 million jackpot.
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.