Friday, March 1, 2024

Winner of $2.04bn lottery buys $25.5m house in the Hollywood Hills

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Countless people ask themselves what they would do if they hit the jackpot, and the California man who took home the world’s largest ever lottery prize has now shown his answer to that age-old question.

Edwin Castro, winner of the historic $2.04bn Powerball jackpot in November, recently spent $25.5m buying a five-bedroom, six-bathroom mansion in Los Angeles’s glitzy Hollywood Hills, the real estate publication Dirt and the city’s Times newspaper first reported.

The Guardian independently confirmed the purchase of the gated mansion sitting above the famous Chateau Marmont hotel through public records but couldn’t immediately reach Castro for comment.

Castro’s buy, made through a limited liability company, nestled him among celebrity neighbors including singer Ariana Grande, actor Dakota Johnson and comedian Jimmy Kimmel. And it was the most expensive real estate sale in Hollywood Hills so far this year, according to the Times.

Among the amenities at Castro’s new home are an infinity pool, a movie theater, a wine cellar, a game room, a steam shower, a fitness gym and a sauna, according to listings, which also showed an original asking price of nearly $30m. The sale was closed on 1 March, two weeks after California lottery officials publicly revealed Castro’s identity to satisfy a state law.

Castro went to a convenience store in the Los Angeles-area community of Altadena to buy the Powerball ticket that netted him the 8 November jackpot of more than $2bn. Instead of choosing to collect the full prize through an annuity over 29 years, he opted for an immediate lump sum of more than $997.6m, meaning he invested more than 2.5% of his new wealth on his mansion among the stars.

Federal tax withholdings reduced Castro’s winnings. But he was relatively lucky to win in one of just eight states that do not tax Powerball winnings.

Little else is known about Castro, whose only public statement so far was written and read on his behalf by officials at a press briefing that revealed his identity but which he skipped. That statement described Castro as “shocked and ecstatic to have won the Powerball” and also expressed gratitude that ticket sales generated by the record-setting jackpot had benefited California’s public school system.

The odds Castro overcame to win one of just four Powerball drawings – held in 45 states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands – with a jackpot of $1bn or more are difficult to fathom.

Players’ tickets – bought for $2 – must match all the numbers on five white balls and one red Powerball to win.

The odds of doing so are one in 292m. There isn’t much players can do to improve their chances. Given the steep odds, it is not unusual for the prize to go unwon until a growing jackpot attracts more players to cover more possible number combinations.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Castro has had to contend with accusations that he won underhandedly. A week after his identity was revealed, he was sued by a man named Jose Rivera, who claimed that he bought the ticket that would have won him the 8 November Powerball drawing before it was stolen from him by someone identified with the fictitious name “Reggie”.

Rivera demanded that Castro not be paid until after a full investigation, and he urged officials to show him video evidence of Castro buying the winning ticket, according to a report on People.com.

California lottery officials have since said that Castro is indeed the legitimate victor and holder of the ticket with the winning numbers 10, 33, 41, 47, 56 and Powerball 10.

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