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California's $425M Powerball Winner Comes Forward
By CHANNING JOSEPH and SUDHIN THANAWALA
The sole winner of February's $425 million Powerball jackpot came forward to claim his prize Tuesday.
California Lottery officials said B. Raymond Buxton, a Northern California man, claimed the prize at the California Lottery headquarters in Sacramento.
" 'Unbelievable!' is all I could muster," Buxton said in a statement on Tuesday. "Once the initial shock passed, I couldn't sleep for days."
After the winning numbers were announced, Buxton said, he sat in front of his computer in disbelief, checking and rechecking his ticket — and telling no one else that he had won. "Sitting on a ticket of this value was very scary," he said.
When he claimed his prize Tuesday, Buxton was wearing a shirt that featured a picture of the Star Wars character Yoda and read, "Luck of the Jedi I have."
According to his publicist Sam Singer, one reason that Buxton came forward on April 1 — April Fool's Day — is simply that he has a healthy sense of humor.
"He still can't believe it's not a prank on him. But the reality is Ray Buxton is the winner," Singer told The Associated Press.
Buxton has been working since February with an attorney and financial adviser to establish new bank accounts, set up a charity and sort out tax issues.
"I'm going to enjoy my new job setting up a charitable foundation focused on the areas of pediatric health, child hunger and education," Buxton said in the statement.
Buxton also plans to stay out of the limelight and doesn't want to speak directly to the media, Singer said. He also won't reveal his age, address or what he did for a living until recently.
"He really wants to live a private life as best he can," Singer said. "He was a solidly middle-class American, and today he is a solidly wealthy one."
Buxton bought the one winning ticket for the Feb. 19 drawing at a convenience store in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Milpitas, about 10 miles north of San Jose.
The $425 million jackpot is one of the largest lottery jackpots in U.S. history, though far from the record. The nation's biggest lottery prize was a Mega Millions jackpot of $656 million in 2012. The biggest Powerball jackpot was a $590.5 million last May.
Buxton chose to take a lump-sum payment of $242.2 million before taxes, lottery officials said.
Buxton was getting lunch at a Subway restaurant at the Chevron station's convenience store when he decided to buy another ticket because the jackpot was so large, lottery officials said.
"It's amazing how a little slip of paper can change your life," Buxton said, who estimates that he has been playing the lottery for 20 years.
The Feb. 19 jackpot was the largest jackpot in California history, according to lottery officials, and the sixth-largest ever won in the United States.
The odds of matching all six Powerball numbers are 1 in about 175 million, according to statistics from the Multi-State Lottery Association in Iowa.
Powerball is played in 43 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.