by Robin Webb and John Bacon, USA TODAY
Winning the fourth-largest jackpot in Powerball history is nothing short of a dream come true for Pedro Quezada, 44, an immigrant who played the lottery daily for the past three years at his neighborhood liquor store.
Claiming his prize Tuesday at the New Jersey lottery headquarters, Quezada said he feels "pure joy."
Quezada, who lives in a working-class neighborhood in Passaic, N.J., learned of his good fortune Monday when he walked into his Eagle Liquors to check his Powerball ticket.
After realizing he had all six winning numbers, Quezada called his mother and shouted, "We won! We won! We're not gonna be poor anymore!"
Quezada, who opted to take the lump sum payout on the $338 million Powerball jackpot, will pocket $211 million or $152 million after taxes, according to New Jersey Lottery Executive Director Carole Hedinger.
Struggling with debt for years, "I was praying so much for this," Quezada said.
"I'm just giving thanks to God," he told the New York Post. Asked on Monday what it felt like to be a millionaire, he said, "I still don't know - I haven't got the money yet."
Public records examined by the Post showed Quezada had about 10 liens totaling more than $25,000.
Quezada, a father of five children - ranging in age from 5 to 23 - said his first priority will be helping his family and others.
"I'm going to help a lot of people, whatever they need," Quezada told the Post.
Quezada, who came to the USA 26 years ago from the Dominican Republic, worked in a factory until 2006. He works for his son at Apple Deli and Grocery on Eighth Street in Passaic.
"My dad is really happy right now. We never expected this," said son Casiano Quezada, 26. "We're a little nervous right now with so much media attention. But we're happy."
Casiano Quezada said the family plans to keep their deli running despite the lottery win.
His wife of 10 years, Ines Sanchez, told The Record in Bergen County, N.J., that the family is in shock over the windfall.
"This is the land of dreams. We had a dream to sell the winning lotto ticket. It feels like my dream came true," said Eagles Liquors owner Sunil Sethi, whose store sold the jackpot ticket.
Eagle Liquors has sold winning lottery tickets in the past. Clerks at Eagle Liquors told the Daily News its biggest payout before Quezada's win was $156,000.
Neighbors in Passaic, a suburb sprawling from New York City, spoke with pride that one of their own had struck it rich.
"He sometimes would work from 6 in the morning to 11 at night, so I did not see him much," neighbor Jose Gonzalez told the Daily News in Spanish.
Richard Delgado, who lives down the block from Quezada's building, said Quezada was "a hard worker, like all of us here. We all get up in the morning and go to work."
MORE: 10 states with the biggest lottery jackpots
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.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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