The winner of one of the largest Powerball jackpots in history has finally come forward — but he still hasn't quite revealed his identity.
B. Raymond Buxton, a Northern California man, waited more than a month to accept his prize on Tuesday at the California Lottery headquarters in Sacramento.
In a photo taken after he claimed the money on Tuesday, Buxton was covering his face with an oversize check for $425 million. Perhaps the only clue to his identity was his unusual shirt, which featured a picture of the Star Wars character Yoda and read, "Luck of the Jedi I have."
"He really wants to live a private life as best he can," Buxton's publicist Sam Singer told The Associated Press. "He was a solidly middle-class American, and today he is a solidly wealthy one."
Buxton is hoping to remain 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 his very recent retirement.
One reason that Buxton waited to come forward on April 1 — April Fool's Day — is simply that he has a healthy sense of humor, Singer said. "He still can't believe it's not a prank on him. But the reality is Ray Buxton is the winner."
Another reason is that 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 Tuesday in a prepared statement.
In some states, lottery winners can choose to remain anonymous. Last September, for example, a South Carolina resident won $399 million but kept his or her identity secret. Some states require the winner to go public, in order to publicize the lottery and to insure transparency and trust in the system. But winning the lottery can cause so many problems that some states are pushing legislation to allow winners to remain out of the limelight, reports The Christian Science Monitor.
Lawmakers in both Michigan and New Jersey have unsuccessfully proposed laws to protect the privacy of winners who, they argue, are "prone to falling victim to scams, shady businesses, greedy distant family members and violent criminals looking to shake them down," an AP story said.
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.
Buxton bought the sole winning ticket for the Feb. 19 drawing at the Dixon Landing Chevron station in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Milpitas, about 10 miles north of San Jose.
Buxton was getting lunch at a Subway restaurant inside the station when he decided to buy another ticket because the jackpot was so large, lottery officials said.
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.
"Once the initial shock passed, I couldn't sleep for days," Buxton said in the statement on Tuesday.
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 in May.
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.
Associated Press writer Sudhin Thanawala contributed reporting from San Francisco.
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