Third Defendant Is Named In California Powerball Lottery Lawsuit

Written By Marian Rosin on March 13, 2023 - Last Updated on March 14, 2023
Califonria lottery powerball lawsuit names third defendant

What’s in a name? Specificity.

On March 7, lawyers for Jose Rivera named Urachi F. Romero as the third defendant in a lawsuit challenging November’s historic $2.04 billion Powerball jackpot win. Urachi had previously been listed under the fictitious name “Reggie” in the suit.

Rivera claims that Romero stole the ticket from him on the drawing day of Nov. 7. Thus, Rivera says he’s the actual winner of the 10-figure jackpot. Not Edwin Castro, who claimed the jackpot and is listed as the second defendant.

The third defendant is the California Lottery, which backs Castro’s claim of being the rightful winner.

Rivera’s lawyers initially filed the 13-page lawsuit on Feb. 22 in Los Angeles Superior Court. It seeks damages and a declaration that Rivera won the record-setting jackpot, according to NBC Bay Area.

The action claims that Rivera asked Romero to return the ticket to him after the drawing. But Romero didn’t comply. It also alleges Romero attempted to coerce Rivera into splitting the jackpot.

There isn’t a pending criminal case yet.

Castro claimed the jackpot on Valentine’s Day

Technical glitches delayed the wildly anticipated Nov. 7 drawing until the next day. Afterward, Castro laid low for several months, a practice not uncommon among winners of big lottery jackpots.

He came forward on Feb. 14 as the sole winner. Castro opted to take the lump-sum payout $997.6 million as big prize winners also often do.

The one undisputed fact is that someone purchased the winning ticket at Joe’s Service Center in Altadena. The store received a $1 million bonus for selling the life-changing entry.

Lottery review makes a case for Castro as winner

The California Lottery’s security and law enforcement division extensively reviews and vets claimants of big jackpots like this contested one, Lottery spokesperson Carolyn Becker told NBC LA.

A claimant must field some questions whose answers aren’t public knowledge, such as “What time of day did you purchase the ticket?” and “Was it a quick pick?”

“We have security measures on every ticket, whether it’s a draw game or Scratchers, that we don’t talk about publicly because those are our secret sauce to identifying an actual winning ticket,” Becker told NBC LA.

Oh, give me a home where the A-listers roam…

While this all plays out, Castro made his first major acquisition with his Powerball money. He purchased a 15,000-square-foot mansion in the Hollywood Hills for $25.5 million, according to

Maybe he can chat over the security fence with new neighbors Ariana Grande, Dakota Johnson, and Jimmy Kimmel. In fact, TMZ reported he might be pitching his story for a Hollywood film.

So what happens if Castro spends the money before the win is litigated? PlayCA consulted a legal expert and a lottery executive on this and other questions.

What if Castro spends/loses the funds before a decision is reached?

Rivera could still get a judgment against any or all defendants. That judgment would have to be enforced.

Can the store videotape be subpoenaed in this trial?

Yes. Rivera and his lawyers have asked to review store footage taken at the winning entry’s purchase time and date.

There are three defendants named in Rivera’s suit; could they receive different verdicts?

Yes, that could happen.

In the event of a disputed jackpot win, does the money get transferred to the seemingly legit winner, anyway, even with a suit pending as in California?

According to Meghan Dougherty, Communications Manager for the Colorado Lottery, yes, that can happen.

Ultimately, if there’s no contradictory evidence, does it boil down to the signature on the ticket?

“That is correct,” Dougherty said.

Mo’ lottery money, mo’ lottery lawsuits

They call money the root of all evil. It’s also the root of all lottery lawsuits. At least one Los Angeles law firm advertises as a “lottery dispute attorney.”

Past lottery lawsuits

  • It must have been an awkward office Christmas party
    • In 2011, Edward Hairston, a logistics agent at an Ohio cabinet business, sued 22 coworkers over a $99 million jackpot. He claimed that although he was out with a back injury at the time of the win, an “implied agreement” existed among them to cover for each other under such circumstances. His coworkers argued that three months of missing payments disqualified him. The parties reached an undisclosed settlement hours before the trial started in January 2012.
  • Breakup checks
    • In 2015, a young North Carolina mother, Marie Holmes, won a $188 million Powerball jackpot. She spent more than $21 million bailing her then-fiancé out of jail multiple times, according to In 2021, he sued her from prison for selling over $1.4 million in gifts that she had given to him. And in a post-jackpot pile-on, the pastor of a church to which she’d given $1.5 million also sued her, claiming she’d verbally offered $10 million.
  • Joint-account custody
    • In 2019, Michigan native Rich Zelasko had to split his $30 million Mega Millions winnings with his formerly estranged, now ex-wife. He won the jackpot in 2013 but owed the money because their divorce wasn’t finalized until 2018. In Michigan, the date of a judgment of divorce marks the cut-off in terms of the acquisition of marital property, including lottery winnings.
  • From Cupid to cupidity?
    • According to, 62-year-old Lynn Anne Poirier chose the $750,000 lump-sum option on her 2007 lottery winnings. Then a Florida jury believed former boyfriend Howard Browning’s story of an oral contract to split the money. They awarded him $291,000. Still unsatisfied, he further requested $150,000 in interest.
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Marian Rosin

Marian Rosin is a freelance writer who has been published in Upnest and Psychology Today. Rosin brings experience in the gambling sector as the senior copywriter for Isle of Capri casinos.

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