The owner of Joe’s Service Center in Altadena, California, who came to the United States from Syria in 1980 with $14,000 in his pocket, is now a millionaire after selling the sole winning Powerball lottery ticket.
California Lottery officials presented the check to Joe Chahayed and his sons Joe Jr. and Danny on a rainy election day outside of their gas station.
Chahayed said lottery officials were waiting for him before he opened his shop this morning. “They said, ‘congratulations, your station sent a winner,’” he recounted.
Chahayed hopes the winner is from the neighborhood, and is glad a portion of the lottery money will go towards California schools. “I have 11 grandchildren and I have to share with them,” he said, then thanked the media for coming out in the rain to celebrate the winnings. “I encourage you to buy a ticket from this station. We guarantee you one day you’re going to be winners too,” said Chahayed.
“Somebody is holding on to a very important piece of paper this morning worth $2.04 billion, that’s two billion forty million dollars,” said Carolyn Becker, California Lottery spokesperson. “That person needs to keep it safe. We will not know who they are until they come forward, but we have a second record to talk about today and that’s California lottery raised more money than ever thanks to one growing jackpot for California public schools.” She said this is the first time the California lottery has created a billionaire.
Chahayed came to America 42 years ago with his wife and two children. “I work hard, seven days a week, I raise my kids, graduate from college, I bought a house, and I bought a business all because I work hard and I’m an honest man,” Chahayed boasted.