The story of Pedro Quezada, the 44-year-old immigrant who won the massive Powerball jackpot Monday, is as heartwarming as it is improbable.
Quezada not only beat 1-in-175 million odds to walk away with millions -- he plans to take the lump sum payout, of more than $200 million, or $152 million after taxes -- but he did it by letting the Quick Pick computer choose his numbers.
The Dominican native stopped by his regular liquor store, the Eagle Liquors in Passaic, N.J., to make his daily beer and lottery run when he found out he'd won the fourth-largest jackpot in history.
"I just learned right now, right now. Ay, Dios!” he told reporters and customers who cheered him as he called his wife, Ines Sanchez.
Quezada has five kids and works at the deli of the bodega run by his 23-year-old son, Casiano. He came to the U.S. 26 years ago and worked in a factory until 2006, when he bought the bodega, which doesn't sell lottery tickets because he never applied for a license.
Sanchez told the New York Post that the winning ticket was an answer to their prayers.
“We’re hardworking people,” she said. “We always struggled.”
Lottery officials identified the store where the winning ticket was sold, but no one knew who the winner was until Quezada walked in at the end of his bodega shift around 4 in the afternoon.
“For the last three years, he would come here every day between 7:30 and 8 p.m. to buy Lotto tickets and two or three bottles of [Corona] beer,’’ said Felix Ramirez, an employee at Eagle Liquors. “He didn’t know he won when he came in because he stopped to check the board."
Neighbors seem thrilled that one of their own walked away with the big win.
"People in the neighborhood could use some help," said Sunil Seth, the owner of Eagle Liquors.
"They deserve it because they're hardworking people," a neighbor added.