He sold the $2 billion powerball ticket. “When they told me, I didn’t believe it”


When Joseph Chahayed immigrated to Los Angeles from Syria in 1980, he envisioned a better life and a brighter future for his family.

His family said he had worked tirelessly to make that dream come true for decades – and on Tuesday he finally received some well-deserved recognition, when his Altadena gas station was awarded a million dollar prize for the sale of the $2 billion winning Powerball ticket. Under California Powerball rules, the retailer selling the winning ticket wins 0.5% of the jackpot, with the reward capped at $1 million.

“He’s a very hardworking man,” said Chahayed’s son, Danny Chahayed. “Seventy-five and he refuses to take a day off; he’s up at 5 a.m. every day. No one deserves it as much as him. »

Elder Chahayed said he plans to share the lottery money with his family and grandchildren, who continue to provide him with the motivation and support he needs to continue working and building community.

Joseph Chahayed, right, helps customer Deontre Lutton bring a bag of ice to his car.

(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

“All my life for them,” Chahayed said. “Money is nothing – I give them my love.”

Chahayed’s unassuming gas station and small convenience store, known as Joe’s Mobile Service on West Woodbury Road, sold the country’s only matching ticket for the record-breaking Powerball jackpot, which raised $2.04 billion at the draw time early Tuesday.

Chahayed and his family, who help run the store, said they hope the winner – who has yet to come forward – is a resident of Altadena. In addition to Chahayed’s check, public schools will receive $156.3 million in funds from this Powerball drawing, something Chahayed was most excited about.

“I’m happy for California; I’m happy for LA,” Chahayed said Tuesday after learning he had sold the winning ticket. “I’m happier for Altadena. There are many poor people here; they deserve it.”

Chahayed ran his family-run gas station in the foothills community of northeast Los Angeles County for 20 years, becoming a beloved fixture and friendly face in the neighborhood, especially evident on Tuesday as a near-constant swarm of neighbors and customers greeted him with hugs, handshakes and photo requests.

Two people at a gas station

Joseph Chahayed interacts with customers at his Altadena gas station on Wednesday.

(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

“Joe is the friendliest person I know,” said Kenny Devine, a client-turned-friend of Chahayed. “I won the lottery when I met Joe, that’s how I feel. … The lottery of life.

Devine said he befriended Chahayed when the owner accidentally gave him too much change after a purchase, and Devine returned to the store to return the extra money. In the years that followed, he said Chahayed was there to comfort him after his wife died and let him open a pop-up shop in the gas station parking lot for the jeans he designs.

Devine’s sister explained that Chahayed sometimes lent her money if she ran out. Another man who stopped called Chahayed a “good man”, while another asked his young son to shake hands with the gas station owner.

“People call me Papa Joe because I treat everyone in the neighborhood like my family,” Chahayed said. “When you treat customers with respect and dignity, they will continue to come to you, they will be loyal to you. We treat the customer like family.

He remained somewhat impressed with the excitement over Tuesday’s lottery announcement, but said it would not change his plans or the way he runs his business.

A customer at a gas station talks to the clerk

A customer buys a lottery ticket from Danny Chahayed, center, son of Joseph Chahayed, far right, who sold the winning Powerball ticket worth over $2 billion.

(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

“I love it. I never get tired,” Chahayed said. He showed up on Wednesday to open the store as usual and said this weekend he would continue to help the church in West Hollywood that he frequents preparing and serving food to homeless people.

“He’s here at 6 and he’s not leaving until we kick him out,” his son Joe Chahayed Jr said. “He could have retired a long time ago, but he’s a people person. .”

The elder Chahayed said it was crazy to think of the odds of selling such a lucky ticket – let alone buying it.

“When they told me, I didn’t believe it,” Chahayed said. “That’s a lot of money.”

California Lottery spokeswoman Carolyn Becker said Wednesday she wouldn’t be surprised if the winner doesn’t claim the jackpot for a few months. They have a full calendar year to run.

“With a sum of money like this, in particular, our best advice is to seek professional help: financial advisers, a lawyer,” Becker said. “Someone to help you understand what it means to earn incredible amounts of money – we’re talking about a life-changing amount of money.”

The name of the winner — who became the California Lottery’s first billionaire — will eventually become public under state law, but more details about them will not, Becker said. Unless the winner decides to go public, she said, the only other information Californians will learn would be how the winner chooses to accept the money, either in a lump sum or in installments. .


Los Angeles Times

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