A man is suing over an allegedly stolen $2.04 billion winning Powerball ticket, TMZ exclusively reported Thursday.
"When it comes to the vetting process for big winners, California Lottery has the utmost confidence in its process for doing so," a California Lottery spokesperson told TMZ in a statement.
"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," lottery spokesperson Carolyn Becker told KTLA.
Jose Rivera says he bought the winning lottery ticket from Joe's Service Center on Woodbury Road in Altadena, California the day before November's historic drawing, according to legal documents obtained by TMZ.
Rivera says a person called "Reggie" stole the ticket from him that same day, but repeatedly refused to return it to Rivera after the numbers had been drawn, KABC reported.
Further, Rivera says "Reggie" threatened to destroy the ticket unless unless Rivera agreed to split the winnings.
Rivera reported the alleged theft to California Lottery and law enforcement.
When Edwin Castro was named as the winner, Rivera submitted his claim to lottery officials and asked them to investigate before turning over the lump sum prize of $997.6 million to Castro.
Castro, "Reggie," and the California Lottery are all named as defendants in Rivera's suit, KABC reported. TMZ notes Rivera is asking the court for damages and to declare him the winner of record-breaking $2.04 billion jackpot.
The named winner of the historic jackpot, Edwin Castro, came forward to claim aimed his prize earlier this month. Officials made the announcement at a press conference on Valentine's Day.
"This is a history-making day here at California Lottery," said Carolyn Becker, California Lottery's deputy director of public affairs and communications. "We are breaking news and setting records today."
Becker read the following statement on Edwin Castro's behalf the day of the announcement.
"As much as I am shocked and ecstatic to have won the Powerball drawing, the real winner is the California public school system. 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," the statement began.
"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," the statement concluded.
Lottery officials displayed a ceremonial $156.3 million check to "California Public Education" alongside Castro's ceremonial $2.04 billion check during the press conference. The service station that sold the winning ticket received $1 million, CBS reported.
Watch KABC's coverage below.
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