A California lottery contender has claimed he was the rightful winner of the record-breaking $2.04 billion Powerball jackpot, but his ticket was stolen on the day of purchase.
Legal documents obtained by TMZ allege that on Nov. 7, Jose Rivera purchased a lottery ticket from Joe’s Service Center in Altadena.
Rivera claimed that a man named “Reggie” stole the ticket that same day.
A day later, the winning numbers were announced and Rivera claimed Reggie refused to hand over the ticket – which allegedly contained the winning numbers.
Instead, Reggie reportedly said he would hand it over if the profits were split equally.
According to the documents, Rivera claimed he “refused to be blackmailed” and reported the alleged theft to police and the California Lottery.
In February, the state announced Edwin Castro as the official winner of the $2.04 billion prize – the largest Powerball jackpot of all time.
The winning ticket numbers were 10-33-41-47-56 and Power 10.
Castro also bought the ticket at Joe’s Service Center – just 15 miles north of Los Angeles.
Due to tax penalties, Castro took home only about $997.6 million of his winnings.
In a statement, Castro said he was “shocked and excited” by the massive win.
“As someone who has received the rewards of training in the California public education system, it’s gratifying to hear that the California school system has also benefited greatly from my victory,” he said.
Castro and Reggie are listed as two separate defendants in Rivera’s lawsuit, which is asking to be declared the winner, according to TMZ.
In March, attorneys for Rivera identified Reggie as Urachi F. Romero, according to 10 News San Diego.
Despite Rivera’s claim, the California Lottery stood by its decision to nominate Castro as the winner of the huge prize.
“Also, when it comes to the verification process for big winners, the California Lottery has the utmost confidence in their process,” a spokesman told TMZ.
“The California Lottery remains confident that Edwin Castro is the legitimate winner of the $2.04 billion prize from the November 2022 Powerball drawing.”