California Man Claims $2.04 Billion Powerball Jackpot Three Months After Winning

Written By Aleeyah Jadavji on February 24, 2023
$2.04B Powerball jackpot remains unclaimed three months later

It took more than three months since the record-breaking $2.04 billion Powerball was drawn for the winner to come forward.

Powerball officials held the drawing on Nov. 7, 2022. However, it wasn’t until recently that the California Lottery revealed it was Edwin Castro who won the 10-figure prize

Castro had the choice between a lump sum payment of $997.6 million or to take the total payment paid out over 29 years. He opted for the one-time payment.

Aside from his name, lottery officials didn’t reveal any other information about Castro. He was not at the press conference and did not do any interviews with local media.

Castro celebrates funding to California public schools

But Castro did release a statment where he considered Golden State public schools the real winner.

“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. 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.”

How long do winners have to claim their prizes in California?

The California Lottery has more than 23,000 retail partners selling tickets in the state. Online ticket sales are illegal in California.

There are a few different timeframes for winners to claim prizes. Those timeframes are based on the game and the type of prize won. In California, Powerball winners, excluding jackpot winners, have 180 days from the date of the drawing to collect their prize. On the other hand, Powerball jackpot winners can claim prizes up to one year from the date of the drawing.  

Officials held the $2.04 billion drawing on Nov. 7, 2022. Therefore, Castro had until the November 7, 2023 to pick up the cash. And smaller winners had until May 7, 2023. 

Joe’s Service Center in Altadena, CA, sold the winning ticket. Store owner Joe Chahayed took home a cool $1 million for selling the winner. The 75-year-old owner settled in the US from Syria in 1980, emigrating with his family for a better life. He has owned his gas station for more than 20 years. 

Chahayed planned to share his good fortune with his family, especially his 11 grandchildren.

California education would’ve gotten even more funding if Castro never claimed the money

After a few months, it seemed possible nobody would ever cliam the prize. If that happened, all participating state lotteries would get their money returned. That money would then go to whichever entity is set up to receive lottery contributions.

In California, unclaimed prizes from the lottery are given to the state’s public education system. Before Castro, the Nov. 7 drawing sent $156.3 million to the state’s education system. 

California public schools would’ve received an additional amount equal to what the state collected toward the cash value of the jackpot. In this scenario, it will be around 13% of the $997.6 million lump-sum offering. That would mean the education system would receive another $129.7 million from this record-breaking Powerball prize.

California Lottery has given public schools over $41 billion since 1985

The California Lottery has given back over $41 billion from sales over the years. Since its inception in 1985, the Lottery has grown significantly, as has the amount of funds going to education in the state. The majority of funding targets students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Here is a breakdown of California Lottery distribution percentages:

  • K-12th grade: 79.9%
  • Community colleges: 14%
  • California state university System: 3.7%
  • University of California: 2.3%
  • Other educational entities: 0.1%

Interestingly, the massive contributions made by the Lottery are just 1% of California’s annual public education budget.

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Aleeyah Jadavji

Aleeyah hails from Toronto, Ontario in Canada and has been working predominantly in the poker industry since 2015. From writing articles, to interviewing big winners and live reporting on poker's biggest stages, she's seen it all. Aleeyah loves to cook and create content to showcase her passion for food and travel. She also loves sriracha, and doesn't trust anyone that believes it's not a top tier condiment.

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