5 Surprising Things Latino Lottery Winners Did With Their Money
The lives of lottery winners tend to be a mixed bag. Some go on to do some pretty incredible things, some end up in squalor as quickly as they became rich, while others keep living a humble and quiet life. However, the majority of these Latino lottery winners have fascinating stories to tell.
From charitable foundations to cartel threats, here are five Latino lottery winners you should remember.
Alcario and Carmen Castellano ($141 Million, 2001)
After scoring a $141 million jackpot in 2001, San Jose natives Alcario and Carmen Castellano started a charitable foundation to support Latinos in art and leadership positions. The Castellano Family Foundation is one of the few Latino family foundations in the country, according to Philanthropy News Digest.
Initially, the couple put down $5 million to fund different projects. By May 2022, the Castellano Family Foundation donated $225,000 through 16 different grants. That number went up to $1 million in 2005, and then $2.5 million in 2009.
By May 2017, the couple donated all of their initial $5 million investment through 700 grants that went to 200 different organizations. Sadly, Carmen Castellano passed away earlier this year at the age of 81.
Manuel Franco ($768 Million, 2019)
24-year-old Manuel Franco really did not expect to win the lottery. Nobody does, really, but the Wisconsin resident’s life changed overnight when he won $768 million playing Powerball. From struggling to keep $1,000 in his account to dealing with close to a billion dollars, Franco said his massive windfall felt “like a dream.”
When he won in 2019, his jackpot was the third-highest in history. For some reason, Franco knew he was about to have a stroke of luck. “I honestly felt so lucky that I did look up at the camera and I wanted to wink at it cause I just had that lucky feeling,” he said at a press conference.
So far, it seems like Franco has done a good job avoiding the lottery curse. Immediately after his win, he started “setting up the best legal team,” according to a press conference with CBS News. He also planned to do some good with the money, too. “I do want to help out the world, but I want to make sure my future is secure,” he said.
Juan Hernandez ($10 Million, 2019 and 2022)
Yes, you’re reading that right. Juan Hernandez won the lottery twice. Not only that, he won the same amount both times. Hernandez is a fan of the $10 million scratch-off lotto tickets, so much so that he kept playing them after he won the first time.
As we reported last year when Hernandez won for a second time, the Uniondale resident hasn’t even spent all the money he won the first time around. After withholdings, Hernandez took home approximately $6.51 million, which he used to pay off his mortgage.
“I’m still trying to spend the $10 million I won in ’19,” he said to the New York Lottery. Apparently, winning the lottery more than once is not that uncommon. Although players have a 1 in 3.52 million chance of winning the $10 million scratcher, some say it’s actually easier to win a second time.
“I watched a video on lotteries on YouTube a while back. Apparently, this happens pretty often where past winners will win again,” wrote Twitter user @ashtonphoenyx. “They claim that there’s a pattern to it and once you figure it out it increases your chances of winning.”
Pedro Quezada ($338 Million, 2013)
When Dominican-American bodega owner Pedro Quezada won the $338 million Powerball in 2013, the reaction was… divisive, to say the least. Although most people were thrilled for the working-class immigrant, others seemed to take it personally that Quezada won instead of a natural-born citizen.
However, Quezada’s story took a bizarre and disturbing turn in 2017. Soon after winning the Powerball, Quezada paid off $29,000 in child support he owed to his ex-girlfriend, Inez Sanchez, and their child. He also previously owned a grocery store with Sanchez, who sued him for a portion of his winnings.
But that’s not the worst part. In 2017, authorities charged Quezada with sexual assault of a minor, claiming he entrapped and raped the girl for three years, starting when she was just 11 years old. Quezada’s lawyers claimed the courts targeted him because of his wealth. The thing is, by that point, Quezada already spent most of the money.
By the end of 2013, Quezada spent most of the $152 million he took home after taxes. He sent a whopping $57 million to the Dominican Republic, gave away at least $5 million, and spent $300,000 on a home in Clifton, New Jersey.
However, even then, contractors who worked on a renovation on Quezada’s new home claimed he never even paid them. The same was true of his former neighbors. Quezada promised them he would pay their rent indefinitely and reportedly went back on his promise after moving to Clifton.
José María Morelos y Pavón Kindergarten (Mex$20 Million, 2021)
Lastly, we have a pretty odd case.
Here, an entire kindergarten won $20 million pesos thanks to a state-sponsored lottery. With plans to distribute the money amongst the staff, the 24 students, and their parents, the situation quickly turned dangerous when a gang, Los Petules, threatened the school and demanded they give them the money.
In fact, they demanded the parents spend the money on guns for the members of Los Petules to use against a rival gang. When the families refused, they began sending death threats to the families. They even stabbed and robbed one person, Marcelo Santiz López, and stole the credit card used to access the winnings.
The gang tormented the families for months until eventually the entire community fled the gang, leaving behind not just the winnings but their homes, land, and livestock. The families then protested the government, demanding they deal with Los Petules and allow them to return home.
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