A beaming Pedro Quezada of Passaic, New Jersey, gave his first press conference after winning the $381 million Powerball jackpot. Quezada even clapped for himself when they announced his name and said he had one overriding feeling when he realized he had won.
“I felt happiness because I can help my family,” the Dominican Quezada said in Spanish, adding that he still isn’t sure what he will do with the money. “This is a gift from god – completely. Our family is humble, poor.”
He was joined by his Mexican-American wife Inés Sanchez and his family. Pressed on what his first big purchase would be, he said he would be getting himself a transportation alternative. “
“I’m going to buy a nice car,” he said, smiling. Asked what he uses to get around now, he said, “My feet.”
Quezada, whose quick pick ticket won, said he plays the lotto two or three times a week, sometimes choosing his own numbers and sometimes letting the machine do it.
Reports stated that the Quezada family had suffered bad luck in recent years. Two years, ago, thieves broke into their apartment and stole everything from clothing to jewelry. The year before, a fire destroyed much of their bodega. While Quezada didn’t want to talk about the robbery or the fire, he did talk about how hard the years had been on him.
“They were difficult years,” he said. “Waking up every morning at 5 a.m. and closing my store at 11 p.m. — it was very difficult.”
Quezada, who said he couldn’t sleep last night after finding out that he won, answered a question by a reporter about where he was because no one could find him. “That’s why I was hiding,” he said as everyone laughed.
Now that he is going to be the recipient of lifetime payments or a lump sum — he hasn’t decided yet — he says “new” family members are coming out of the woodwork. “Each day one more cousin,” he said.
Becoming serious, he said he hopes to be able to change the lives of others. “I don’t know how I’m going to do it but I want to help people in need,” he said.
Quezada, who said he wishes he had won earlier so he could have been at the World Baseball Classic to see the Dominican national team win the championship, said that is a lucky man who always has god on his lips and in his mind. He also gave advice to hardworking immigrants like himself, who want to catch a break.
“Que sigan sus sueños (Follow their dreams,)” he said. “God is big.”
While he has many decisions to make, Quezada talked about where things go from here.
“My life will change because it’s so much money, but my heart won’t change,” he said.