The winner of a record-breaking $2 billion lottery prize to benefit California’s public schools has been revealed as Edwin Castro.
The identity of the California State Lottery’s first ever potential billionaire had been unknown since last November, when officials said that its gigantic Powerball jackpot had gone to one single person.
At a press conference on Tuesday, the lottery named Mr Castro, who bought his ticket in Altadena in the mountains above Los Angeles, as its lucky winner – beating odds of one in 292 million.
In the event, he 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) $998 million.
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 the Golden State’s taxpayer-funded 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.”
This lottery also raised likewise record-breaking $156 million for California schools, which will be disbursed based on each school’s daily attendance record.
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.”
California’s 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 the cash prize all at once, even if the overall amount is less.
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 $2.04 billion.
According to Forbes, Mr Castro is likely to receive around $629 million after all applicable taxes.