It’s the classic American immigrant story — but with a huge twist, to put it mildly.
“Now that they have money, the world looks different,” says Diego Quezada in Spanish. He’s the nephew of Pedro Quezada, the 44-year-old Dominican-American father of five who won $338 million after buying the winning Powerball lottery ticket in his hometown of Passaic, New Jersey.
“He called and told me he won the lottery,” said Casiano Quezada to Telemundo. Casiano, one of the winner’s sons, owns a bodega where he employed his father. After taxes, his dad will take home a clean $152 million.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” said Casiano Quezada with a smile.
“I told him, don’t joke around,” said the winner’s brother, René Quezada, recalling the moment he found out of about his sibling’s win. “He thanks God a thousand and one times for what came to him,” said the brother.
Pedro Quezada immigrated to the United States from Santiago, in the Dominican Republic, when he was a young man. His nephew, Diego, tells NBC Latino the whole family immigrated to the U.S. seeking a better life.
Pedro Quezada married a Mexican woman, Inés, and they had five children. Like other immigrants in this northern New Jersey town, Quezada is described by neighbor Richard Delgado as a “hard worker, like all of us here. We all get up in the morning and go to work.”
Now, the husband and father of five’s most pressing “work” is to figure out what comes next after the staggering sum.
“My father is helping to set him up with an attorney and a financial advisor,” says Diego.
The winner’s brother, René, told reporters it’s great that his brother won, since “things are tough.” René said he advised his brother to first and foremost, give his five children the chance to pursue higher education. “He’s now realized his dream; now it’s time for his children’s dream to come true,” he said. The Quezadas had been through some upheaval, according to friends and family. Their home had been robbed of most of their valuables, and his son’s bodega had been badly damaged in a fire. Now, the son, Casiano, says it’s great to know he does not have to worry about being able to keep his business open.
As for the winner’s wife, Mexican-American Inés Sanchez, “she says the important thing is to stay together, united in this,” said her brother-in-law,René.
For many in the close-knit neighborhood of largely Latino residents, this win is great news for all of them, not just for Pedro Quezada and his immediate family.
“This is super for all of us on this block,” said Elaida Vázquez, the Quezada’s neighbor for the last 25 years. “They deserve it because they are hard-working people,” Vázquez added.
In a totally ‘relatable’ moment, reporters captured the moment that Quezada called his wife Inés to give her news.
“I’m the millionaire, Ines, put on the TV so you can see me, or come down to the liquor store right now!” shouted Quezada joyfully to his wife.
As for the bodega worker turned multimillionaire, Pedro Quezada told reporters he is nervous — and happy.