California Lottery Says $2B Powerball Winner Is Legitimately Edwin Castro Amid Claim Ticket Was Stolen

Why Are Lottery Jackpots Getting So High?

Castro, who did not attend the press conference announcing the winner nor has been interviewed by the media, chose to take the lump-sum cash payment of $997.6 million

The California Lottery has reiterated that the winner of last year’s $2.04 billion jackpot was legitimately Edwin Castro, despite the lawsuit filed last week by a man who claimed he had the winning ticket before it was stolen from him.

Jose Rivera claims in the lawsuit, which was obtained by Inside Edition Digital and filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, that he purchased the winning ticket at Joe's Service Center in Altadena, California, on Nov. 7 which was the day before the drawing. He claims the ticket was stolen that same day by someone named "Reggie" who is a defendant in the suit.

The complaint lists California, the state's lottery commission, Castro and "Reggie," a fictitious name that Rivera says he used as he does not know the individual's real name, as defendants.

State officials pushed back against Rivera's claim Monday, saying that Castro is the winner of the massive jackpot.

"When it comes to the vetting process for big winners, California Lottery has the utmost confidence in its process for doing so," Carolyn Becker, a spokesperson for the California Lottery, told Inside Edition Digital 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 officials said at the time of the drawing that Castro alone matched all six numbers and the Powerball after purchasing the ticket at Joe’s Service Center. Castro chose to take the lump-sum cash payment of $997.6 million. He did not attend the press conference announcing the winner, nor has he been interviewed by the media.

The California Lottery said in a statement to Inside Edition Digital that it is not authorized to investigate criminal activity.

"Such allegations are subject to investigation only by local law enforcement," the statement said. "Should a local law enforcement agency investigate such allegations, Lottery’s only role is to assist in the matter by answering questions and/or providing evidence as allowed under the law."

Brain Kramer, an attorney representing Rivera in the suit, emailed Inside Edition Digital a letter he said was sent to the lawyers for the California lottery stating that evidence must be preserved. Attorneys representing the California Lottery did not respond to Inside Edition Digital's request for comment. 

"In an effort to hopefully reach a prompt resolution of this matter involving the rightful owner of the $2.04 Billion Powerball winning ticket, our client, Jose Rivera, again requests the “Lottery” make available for our review all video depicting the purchase of the winning ticket. We understand the “Lottery” took possession of the video shortly after it was determined the winning ticket was sold at Joe’s Service Station in Altadena, California," the letter stated.

"We look forward to hearing from the California Lottery and/or its investigators and/or legal counsel on or before the close of business on Thursday, March 2, 2023, as to when the video can be produced and viewed. We request the viewing take place in a “Lottery” District Office in Los Angeles County," the letter added.

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