A Powerball ticket worth $425 million was sold in Milipitas, California, on February 19, but the winner deliberately waited until April Fools' Day to come forward and claim his prize. But though a publicist for the Northern California retiree — yes, he already has a publicist — says that B. Raymond Buxton has a "healthy sense of humor," the life-changing Powerball payout now in his bank account is 100 percent real.
Powerball Winner Hired Financial Advisers Before Claiming PrizeFor the past five weeks, Buxton has remained incognito, leading lottery officials to wonder if the winner of the sixth-largest lottery prize in U.S. history had simply forgotten to check his Powerball ticket.
But they also recommend that winners take some time before claiming a big prize to obtain reliable accountants, attorneys — and even publicists — to prepare for the dramatic life changes that come with sudden wealth. And that is exactly what the February 19 Powerball winner was doing all of this time.
That is, once he recovered from the shock of discovering that he was now richer than Mitt Romney.
"'Unbelievable!' is all I could muster," Buxton said, describing his feelings when he checked his ticket against the winning Powerball numbers posted online. "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."
Winner Intends To Retain As Much Privacy As He CanHe said the five weeks he took to arrange his finances and hire the financial advisers he needed was a nerve-wracking time. Buxton — who understandably declined to give out any personal information about himself other than his name, and took his required photograph with the ceremonial oversize check covering his face — told no one that he was the then-missing Powerball winner.
"Sitting on a ticket of this value was very scary," said Buxton. "It's amazing how a little slip of paper can change your life."
"He really wants to live a private life as best he can," publicist Sam Singer said. "He was a solidly middle-class American, and today he is a solidly wealthy one."
Powerball Winnings To Go Toward Charity For Children's HealthIn addition to travel, the Powerball winner said that his "new job" will be creating a charitable foundation to benefit "pediatric health, child hunger and education."
He did let on, indirectly, that he is a Star Wars fan. He showed up at lottery headquarters in Sacramento wearing a "Yoda" t-shirt printed with the Yoda-ism, "Luck of the Jedi, I have."
Buxton bought a Powerball ticket while grabbing a Subway sandwich for lunch at the Milpitas Chevron station. Before he left, on an whim, he plunked down another $2 on a second ticket. That impulse purchase was the one that changed his life.
Buxton chose to take the single payout option, meaning that instead of spreading $425 million in Powerball winnings over 30 years, he accepted a one-time deposit of $242.2 million. After federal taxes, he'll have an estimated $181,650,000 left in his bank account. California does not impose a state tax on lottery winnings.
Image: California Lottery