Winner of $2bn lottery jackpot sued by man who claims ticket was stolen from him
The winner of a $2bn (£1.65bn) Powerball jackpot is being sued by a man who claims the winning ticket was stolen from him before the draw.
The win in the US set records as the biggest lottery prize in history.
The winner bought the ticket in California after a rollover went on for three months without anyone winning the top prize.
Edwin Castro was identified as the lucky ticketholder in February, three months after the draw last November.
Now, though, a man named Jose Rivera claims the prize is rightfully his.
He says he bought the ticket at Joe's Service Centre in Altadena, California, the day before the draw.
He alleges a man called Urachi Romero stole the ticket that same day.
Mr Rivera has filed a civil complaint against Mr Romero, Mr Castro, the California State Lottery Commission and the state of California, NBC reported.
After the ticket was allegedly stolen, Mr Rivera made "numerous requests and demands to return it" but Mr Romero refused, according to the complaint.
When the winning numbers were drawn, he again asked for the ticket.
Mr Romero allegedly responded by saying "the ticket was a loser or if I find the ticket we can split the winnings 50/50," the complaint said.
Read more US news:
'Burn after reading' letter in backpacker death case
Boris Johnson speaks to Sky News at US airport
Boy, 11, 'shot in the chest' by police officer
Mr Rivera reported the alleged theft to the California Lottery and police, according to court documents.
After Mr Castro was announced as the winner in February, Mr Rivera presented a claim form to California Lottery saying his ticket was stolen.
"Up until the announcement on 14 February, 2023, Mr Rivera had been threatened that his winning ticket would be destroyed if he did not agree to split the winnings," a letter from his lawyer said.
California Lottery told NBC it does not comment on pending litigation but expressed "utmost confidence" in the organisation's vetting process for winners.
"California Lottery remains confident that Edwin Castro is the rightful winner of the $2.04 billion prize stemming from the Powerball drawing in November of 2022," spokesperson Carolyn Becker said.
Mr Castro was served with the lawsuit at the $25.5m (£20.7m) mansion he bought with the lottery winnings.