California man sues $2B Powerball winner, claims ticket was stolen: report
LOS ANGELES - A California man has filed a lawsuit against the recently identified $2.04 billion Powerball winner, claiming the ticket was stolen from him, TMZ reports.
Jose Rivera claims he bought the wining ticket from Joe's Service Center in Altadena on Nov. 7 but it was stolen that same day, according to court documents obtained by TMZ.
The lawsuit states a man identified as "Reggie" somehow stole Rivera's ticket but did not explain the circumstances of the alleged theft, the outlet reported. Rivera alleges "Reggie" told him the ticket was a bust and even if he did win, he would only return it on the condition that he split the prize with him 50/50.
According to court documents, River said he "refused to be blackmailed" and reported the alleged theft to law enforcement officials and to the California Lottery, demanding an investigation before the prize was distributed.
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Altadena resident Edwin Castro was identified as the winner of the record-setting Powerball drawing. During the Valentine's Day press conference announcing his win, Castro was not present and declined media interviews. He opted for the lump sum cash payment of $997.6 million.
Rivera’s lawsuit lists both Castro and "Reggie" as two separate defendants, but did not detail how they were involved in the alleged theft.
Rivera is asking the court for damages and to declare him the true winner.
In a statement to FOX 11, California Lottery spokesperson Carolyn Becker reinforced the organization’s process of vetting all prize winners.
"California Lottery remains confident that Edwin Castro is the rightful winner of the $2.04 billion prize stemming from the Powerball drawing in November of 2022," she said.
Becker added that the California Lottery "is not authorized to investigate criminal activity among its players; such allegations are subject to investigation only by local law enforcement. Should a local law enforcement agency investigate such allegations, Lottery’s only role is to assist in the matter by answering questions and/or providing evidence as allowed under the law."
The jackpot was the largest ever for Powerball and the largest in U.S. lottery history.