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'My life has changed,' New Jersey immigrant says after $338-million lottery win

Pedro Quezada, winner of the Powerball lottery, attends a news conference at the New Jersey Lottery headquarters in Trenton, March 26, 2013.


An immigrant who described years of working more than 15-hour days running a small New Jersey shop, introduced himself to the public on Tuesday after winning the $338-million (U.S.) Powerball jackpot, saying with a broad smile, "My life has changed."

Pedro Quezada, 44, married with five children, was the sole winner of the jackpot drawn on Saturday.

Quezada, who came to the United States from the Dominican Republic when he was 19, spoke before a throng of reporters, photographers and television crews at the New Jersey Lottery headquarters about the years he spent operating a bodega in Passaic, N.J.

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"Imagine having to wake up every morning at 5 a.m. and close my store at 11 p.m.," the Spanish-speaking Quezada said through a translator.

He was reserved when asked about his future, but said he was looking forward to buying a new car. Asked what he was driving now, he replied with a smile: "My feet."

"All I can say is that I feel very happy, and God has blessed us with this prize," he said.

The sum is the fourth largest jackpot in the history of Powerball, which is played in 42 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

"I felt pure joy, just happiness," Quezada said.

If he takes the winnings in a lump sum, he will receive $221-million.

"I don't know exactly how, but I will help the community," he said.

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Wearing an open-necked plaid shirt and a yellow windbreaker, Quezada was joined at the news conference by his wife and other family members.

He said he has had trouble sleeping since learning he won the jackpot. "I couldn't close my eyes," he said.

Quezada said he saw a commotion outside the Eagle Liquor store in Passaic where he had purchased his ticket, while he was walking to work on Monday morning.

"I figured maybe the winning ticket was sold from this store," he said.

He said he handed his lottery ticket to the Eagle Liquor clerk, who checked his numbers and told him: "Congratulations."

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