March 26, 2013 in Nation/World

Small-store owner claims Powerball win


HACKENSACK, N.J. - Every evening, Pedro Quezada buys a lottery ticket at Eagle Liquors in Passaic. On Monday, though, he came to cash in.

Surrounded by a media gantlet and a pack of joyful neighbors, the 44-year-old immigrant from the Dominican Republic who runs a nearby deli and grocery store signed the Powerball ticket he had bought two days before – the one that hit the $338 million jackpot.

Then he called his family to give them the news. “I’m a millionaire, Ines,” he told his wife. “Did you hear?”

Rarely does good news arrive in such fantastic fashion in this neighborhood, one of North Jersey’s poorest enclaves. It’s a place where the typical household income is $26,000, half the children live in poverty, half the adults lack a high school diploma, only 10 percent own their homes.

“I’m living next to a millionaire!” a woman announced from her doorway.

Quezada, a father of five who has owned the Apple Deli and Grocery on Eighth Street since 2006, seemed to be still processing the news as he fielded questions. He answered in Spanish.

How was he feeling? “I’m nervous and tired.”

What would he do with the money? “I want to help a lot of people, in whatever they need, in rent, in whatever.”

The Quezada family was hit with their share of bad luck recently. Thieves broke into their small apartment about two years ago, stealing everything from clothes to jewelry, friends and neighbors said.

About a year before that, a fire destroyed much of their store.

“They had nothing for a while,” said longtime friend Alberto Liranzo.

Neighbors described the family as a quiet, tight unit. Ines would walk her children to school every day while Pedro worked days and nights. His first job in the States was at a T-shirt printing factory, said a friend who worked there with him.

The lump sum payout is $211 million, about $152 million after taxes.

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