Back in January the multistate Powerball lottery generated a record-setting jackpot of $1.6 billion, which was the largest ever awarded in the United States.
It wasn’t technically “awarded” until last week, however, as the owners of one winning ticket elected to remain anonymous, biding their time while planning just how to handle the historic windfall.
On Friday, July 15th, the mysterious winning ticket was finally submitted to the California Lottery offices by Marvin and Mae Acosta.
The married couple currently live in Eastvale, California – just about 12 miles away from the 7-11 store in Chino Hills where the winner was sold.
Two other winning tickets were sold in Florida and Tennessee. Maureen Smith and David Kaltschmidt of Melbourne Beach, FL claimed one-third of the overall jackpot, while John and Lisa Robinson of Munford, TN received an equal portion.
Those winners shaved the Acostas’ total prize to $528.8 million, but by opting to take the immediate lump sum payment, rather than a yearly installment plan, the Acostas actually pocketed $327.8 million before federal taxes.
Requesting privacy, the Acostas issued a prepared statement rather than submit to a litany of press engagements and interviews:
“We are thankful and blessed for the rare gift that has been placed in our care. We have engaged a team of advisors to educate and guide us through this process so that we can be good stewards of these new resources.
While many decisions are still to be made, we have committed nearly all of this new resource to a trust and to charities that are important to us. While we are very grateful for the wonderful wishes and encouragement we’ve received, it is not our intention to become public figures, and we ask for and appreciate privacy going forward.”
According to lottery spokesman Alex Traverso, the due diligence performed by the Acostas was admirable, especially considering the impulse to simply collect the cash and begin spending. As Traverso observed, the Acostas spent the intervening months carefully planning an exit strategy of sorts:
“They did all the stuff we hoped they would … they got a lawyer, made a plan, got everything squared away so they could get their claim and sort of disappear. They’re going to fall off the grid. That’s going to be an interesting challenge.”
The Acostas weren’t the only winners to emerge from Chino Hills.
Balbir Atwal, who owns and operates the 7-11 store which sold the winning ticket, received a $1 million payout of his own. Atwal immigrated to the United States from Punjab, India during the 1980s, opening four 7-11 locations since then while also raising a family.
Sonia Atwal, one of Balbir’s three daughters, summed up the family’s celebratory mood:
“I one hundred percent believe he deserves this. He pretty much set his foot here and helped our family make the American Dream.”
The Powerball lottery can be played in 44 states, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.