A man claiming that the winning $2.04 billion Powerball ticket was stolen from him is suing for damages and to be declared the winner of the historic jackpot, TMZ reports.
The winner of November’s drawing, a man identified as Edwin Castro, didn’t come forward to claim the prize until mid-February.
Castro also did not attend the news conference at the California Lottery headquarters in Sacramento. Aside from his name, no other information was released. However, lotto officials said Castro opted to receive the lump sum payment option of $997.6 million.
Now, a man named Jose Rivera has filed a lawsuit against Castro and another defendant known only as “Reggie.”
Rivera claims to have bought his ticket at Joe’s Service Center in Altadena, where the winning ticket was also sold, on Nov. 7, a day before the $2 billion drawing. In legal documents obtained by TMZ, he accuses Reggie of stealing the ticket from him on the same day.
“After the numbers were drawn, (Rivera) says he tried to get Reggie to return the ticket, which allegedly held the winning numbers, but to no avail … with Reggie simply saying it wasn’t a winner, and if found he’d agree to give up half,” TMZ reports.
The tabloid outlet added that Rivera, who “refused to be blackmailed,” told both California Lottery and law enforcement officials about the alleged theft and requested an investigation be conducted before the money was paid out.
The suit names Castro, Reggie and California Lottery.
When asked for a comment, California Lottery Spokesperson Carolyn Becker released the following statement to KTLA:
“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.
Further, when it comes to the vetting process for big winners, California Lottery has the utmost confidence in its process for doing so. 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.”