A Northern California man who won a $425.3-million Powerball jackpot had been playing the lottery for two decades before he struck it big, he said Tuesday.
Retiree B. Raymond Buxton came forward Tuesday to officially claim his prize, telling officials he purposely chose April Fool's Day to turn in his ticket and take the one-time cash option.
He wore a shirt featuring the "Star Wars" character Yoda with the words "Luck of the Jedi I have." His cash option will be worth about $242.2 million before taxes.
Buxton told officials he was getting lunch at a Subway inside the convenience store at Dixon Landing Chevron in Milpitas when he decided to buy a second ticket for the February draw.
Buxton had already purchased one Powerball ticket, but because the jackpot was so large, he decided to buy another, lottery officials said in a statement. He said he had been playing lottery games for 20 years.
The Chevron where Buxton bought the ticket received a $1-million bonus for selling it.
"'Unbelievable!' is all I could muster," Buxton said of the moment he learned he'd hit the jackpot. "I sat in front of the computer for hours in disbelief, frequently checking and rechecking the numbers across multiple sources. Once the initial shock passed, I couldn't sleep for days."
Buxton overcame gargantuan odds to match 17, 49, 54, 35, 1 and the Powerball number 34. Officials said the $425.3-million Powerball sum is the largest jackpot ever won in California and the sixth-largest in the nation.
At first, Buxton said, he did not tell anyone about his good fortune.
"Sitting on a ticket of this value was very scary," he said.
So Buxton studied the lottery's winner's handbook and spent more than a week setting up legal and financial representation.
He told officials he will use some of his winnings to travel, but he also plans to set up a charitable foundation "focused on areas of pediatric health, child hunger and education."
"It's amazing," he said, "how a little slip of paper can change your life."