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April 1, 2014

California's $425M Powerball winner comes forward

SAN FRANCISCO — The sole winner of February's $425 million Powerball jackpot came forward to claim his prize Tuesday.

California Lottery officials said B. Raymond Buxton, a Northern California man, claimed the prize at the California Lottery headquarters in Sacramento.

"'Unbelievable!' is all I could muster," Buxton said in a statement on Tuesday. "Once the initial shock passed, I couldn't sleep for days."

After the winning numbers were announced, Buxton said, he sat in front of his computer in disbelief, checking and rechecking his ticket — and telling no one else that he had won. "Sitting on a ticket of this value was very scary," he said.

When he claimed his prize Tuesday, Buxton was wearing a shirt that featured a picture of the Star Wars character Yoda and read, "Luck of the Jedi I have."

According to his publicist Sam Singer, one reason that Buxton came forward on April 1 — April Fool's Day — is simply that he has a healthy sense of humor.

"He still can't believe it's not a prank on him. But the reality is Ray Buxton is the winner," Singer told The Associated Press.

Buxton has been working since February with an attorney and financial adviser to establish new bank accounts, set up a charity and sort out tax issues.

"I'm going to enjoy my new job setting up a charitable foundation focused on the areas of pediatric health, child hunger and education," Buxton said in the statement.

Buxton also plans to stay out of the limelight and doesn't want to speak directly to the media, Singer said. He also won't reveal his age, address or what he did for a living until recently.

"He really wants to live a private life as best he can," Singer said. "He was a solidly middle-class American, and today he is a solidly wealthy one."

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