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Historic $2B Powerball winner sued by man who claims ticket was stolen from him

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The winner of California’s record $2.04 billion Powerball jackpot last year is being sued by a man who claims the ticket was stolen from him before the winning numbers were revealed.

Edwin Castro won the record-setting prize in the November 2022 draw and was identified in February. At the time he said he was “surprised and excited” and chose to accept the jackpot in a one-time payment of $997.6 million.

The same month he was identified, a man named Jose Rivera filed a civil complaint in Alhambra Superior Court, claiming the jackpot should be his.

Castro, California State Lottery Commission, State of California and Urachi F. A lawsuit was filed against a man named Romero, whom Rivera accused of taking his ticket.

According to the complaint, the day before the draw, Jose Rivera purchased a lottery ticket for the $2.04 billion Powerball on November 7, 2022, at a Joe Service Center in Altadena, California.

But that same day, Rivera accused Romero of stealing the tickets. The complaint did not specify how the alleged theft took place.

After Romero allegedly stole the ticket, Rivera made “multiple requests and demands to return it”, but Romero refused, according to the complaint.

The winning numbers were drawn on November 8, 2022, and Rivera renewed requests for Romero to return the ticket. But, Romero allegedly responded by saying “the ticket was the loser or if I get the ticket we can split the winnings 50/50,” the complaint states.

Rivera reported alleged theft to the California Lottery and law enforcement, according to court documents.

On February 14, the California State Lottery Commission and the State of California announced that Edwin Castro was the winner of the Powerball. Lottery officials said they followed a vetting process to ensure the tickets and claims were valid.

Rivera submitted a claim form to the California Lottery in Santa Fe Springs three days later, claiming that his ticket had been stolen.

That same day his attorney sent a letter to the California Lottery claiming that the winning ticket had been stolen from Rivera.

“Until the announcement on February 14, 2023, Mr. Rivera was threatened that his winning ticket would be destroyed if he did not agree to split the winnings,” the letter to the California Lottery said.

The complaint states that Rivera has requested the California Lottery preserve all footage showing the winning ticket at Joe’s service center.

Rivera says he is entitled to the jackpot, claiming he suffered emotional harm, trespass to movable property (ie using the property without the owner’s permission) and intentional interference with a potential economic relationship in the alleged test.

The California Lottery said it does not comment on pending litigation but expressed “utmost confidence” in the organization’s vetting process for winners.

“The California Lottery is confident that Edwin Castro is the rightful winner of the $2.04 billion prize resulting from the November 2022 Powerball drawing,” said Carolyn Baker, deputy director and spokeswoman for the state lottery.

On April 25, summons were sent to the $25.5 million palatial home in Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles that was sold. in March, according to online records.

But the person in the home reportedly told the process server “we’re serving the wrong Edwin Castro,” according to the May 17 filing.

On Thursday, a lawyer for Castro filed a motion to quash service of the summons. It said the summons was issued to Edwin H. Castro – the real Powerball winner Edwin G. Castro’s father.

The real jackpot winner was Edwin G. A declaration by Castro attached to the resolution states that he has never been personally issued a subpoena. He acknowledged that the L.A. home his father was serving was his. He did not address the ticket claims in his filing.

The hearing on that motion is scheduled for July 19.

NBC News has contacted attorneys for Rivera and Castro for comment. Romero, who did not file a response with the court, could not be reached Friday.