His son says his father will “do something good with the money.” And they will not shutter the Passaic, N.J. bodega the Quezada family has run for years. They may even open another store.
"It's a blessing," Casiano Quezada said of his father, Pedro, winning the $338 million Powerball jackpot. "It's something that happened and you just have to take it as it is."
Casiano said he is proud of his father and still in disbelief that he won the jackpot. The family moved to the U.S. in the 1980s from the Dominican city of Jarabacoa, he said.
It's a blessing...It's something that happened and you just have to take it as it is.
- Casiano Quezada
"I know he's going to do something good with the money," he said from behind the counter of the family bodega, the Apple Deli Grocery.
No one knows what the future holds for the working-class Dominican family who will soon enter the millionaires club. But past winners of mega-lottery drawings and financial planners said to beware – it will be an emotional roller-coaster of joy, anxiety, guilt and distrust.
"I had to adapt to this new life," said Sandra Hayes, 52, a former child services social worker who split a $224 million Powerball jackpot with a dozen co-workers in 2006, collecting a lump sum she said was in excess of $6 million after taxes. "I had to endure the greed and the need that people have, trying to get you to release your money to them. That caused a lot of emotional pain. These are people who you've loved deep down, and they're turning into vampires trying to suck the life out of me."
The single mother kept her job with the state of Missouri for another month and immediately used her winnings to pay off an estimated $100,000 in student loans and a $70,000 mortgage. She spent a week in Hawaii and bought a new Lexus, but six years later still shops at discount stores and lives on a fixed income — albeit, at a higher monthly allowance than when she brought home paychecks of less than $500 a week.
"I know a lot of people who won the lottery and are broke today," she said. "If you're not disciplined, you will go broke. I don't care how much money you have."
Lottery agencies are keen to show off beaming prize-winners hugging oversize checks at celebratory news conferences, but the tales of big lottery winners who wind up in financial ruin, despair or both are increasingly common.
There's the two-time New Jersey lottery winner who squandered her $5.4 million fortune. And the West Virginia man who won $315 million a decade ago on Christmas and later said the windfall was to blame for his granddaughter's fatal drug overdose, his divorce, hundreds of lawsuits and an absence of true friends.
The National Endowment for Financial Education cautions those who receive a financial windfall — whether from lottery winnings, divorce settlements, cashed-out stock options or family inheritances — to plan for their psychological needs as well as their financial strategies. The Denver-based nonprofit estimates that as many as 70 percent of people who land sudden windfalls lose that money within several years.
"Being able to manage your emotions before you do anything sudden is one of the biggest things," said endowment spokesman Paul Golden. "If you've never had the comfort of financial security before, if you were really eking out a living from paycheck to paycheck, if you've never managed money before, it can be really confusing. There's this false belief that no matter what you do, you're never going to worry about money again."
In the first year after he won, Michael Terpstra would awaken many nights in a panic. Had he slept in? Was he late to work the night shift?
"At times I'd wake up and this would all seem like a dream," the 54-year-old said. "I'd have to walk around the house and tell myself, I did win. I'm not working anymore, and I do live here. I didn't get drunk, break into someone's house and go to sleep. This is where I'm supposed to be."
His new home is a roomy, two-story house in south Lincoln with a big-screen television and paintings of Jesus on the walls. He no longer uses alarm clocks and spends his days taking his 92-pound black lab, Rocco, on walks.
He was terrified when he first won, convinced that he would lose all of the money and have to return to work. So he lives carefully off the interest from conservative investments, with help from accountants and lawyers. He bought the new house and a truck, but struggles to name any extravagant purchases.
"I can't buy a super yacht. I can't buy a Gulfstream," he said. "Then again, I don't think I'd use either one, so why would I buy one?"
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.