The winner of a record-breaking $2bn US national lottery prize has been revealed as Edwin Castro, a former public school student from California.
The identity of the Powerball lottery’s first ever billionaire had been unknown since last November, when officials said the gigantic jackpot had gone to one single person.
At a press conference in Sacramento on Tuesday, the California State Lottery announced that Mr Castro, who bought his ticket at a gas station in Altadena in the mountains above Los Angeles, as its lucky winner – beating odds of one in 292 million.
The unusually large prize also helped raise a likewise record-breaking $156m for California’s public school system, drawn from ticket sales within the Golden State.
Mr Castro declined to attend the news conference and asked to remain private, but did release a statement saying he himself had been educated in Californian public schools.
"As much as I am shocked and ecstatic to have won the Powerball drawing, the real winner is the California public school system," Mr Castro said.
"The mission of the California Lottery, which is to provide supplemental funding for California public education, both public schools and colleges, makes this a huge win for the state.
"As someone who received the rewards of being educated in the California public education system, it’s gratifying to hear that as a result of my win, the California school system greatly benefits as well."
California is one of 45 states and three US territories that participate in Powerball, which is partly administered by local lottery agencies in each jurisdiction.
In the event, Mr Castro elected to take his prize in one lump sum rather than letting the lottery invest it and pay him back over 30 years, leaving him with a still eye-popping (albeit taxable) $998m.
Advertised jackpots are based on the estimated value of the cash prize if it is invested in government bonds over 30 years. Most winners ask to have it all at once, even if the overall amount is lower.
California law requires lottery winners to be named publicly, but they are under no obligation to reveal anything else about themselves.
"As you might imagine, Edwin would like to largely remain private," said lottery director Alva Johnson on Tuesday. "He understands his name as part of the public record, and now part of history. But he respectfully declined our invitation to appear publicly with us today, understandably so."
This jackpot was so large because the Powerball numbers had been drawn 41 consecutive times without anyone coming forward with a winning ticket. Each unclaimed prize rolled over into the next, eventually building to $2.04bn.
According to Forbes, Mr Castro is likely to receive around $629m after all applicable taxes.
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