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Finally! Chino Hills holder of $528 million Powerball lotto ticket comes forward

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7-Eleven assistant manager M. Faroqui celebrates after selling the winning near-$1.6 billion Powerball Lottery ticket in Chino Hills on Jan. 13, 2016.

Muzaffar Faroqui sells Powerball tickets on Tuesday, July 19, 2016 at the Chino Hills 7-Eleven that sold the winning Powerball ticket in the $1.6 billion jackpot. After more than six months owners Marvin and Mae Acosta claimed their share in the largest jackpot in U.S. lottery history. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/Southern California News Group)

Six months after a $1.6 billion Powerball lottery jackpot set records, the holder of the winning ticket bought at a Chino Hills 7-Eleven has finally come forward.

Marvin and Mae Acosta were announced as the winners in a tweet from the California Lottery on Tuesday morning. Their hometown was not revealed, but a property search and neighbors confirmed they lived in Eastvale — until last week.

The couple wants “to remain as private as possible,” the tweet says.

The drawing Jan. 13 set off a nationwide frenzy, with three tickets poised to share the jackpot, or $528.8 million apiece. When word got out that California’s winning ticket was sold at the 7-Eleven at 4092 Chino Hills Parkway, owned by Balbir Atwal, the store quickly filled with people celebrating the win — but the actual winner was not among them.

The winners from Tennessee came forward almost immediately, while the Florida winners took about a month to reveal themselves.

Meanwhile, Chino Hills waited and wondered.

“We finally know who our mystery winners are,” California Lottery Director Hugo Lopez said in a statement. “It may have taken six months for them to come to one of our offices, but these winners did just what we tell all our winners to do — they read our Winner’s Handbook and then assembled a team of legal and financial advisers to help them make the most of this windfall.”

Lopez added that he “couldn’t be happier for them and are thrilled they took the time to assemble the right team before coming in to claim.”

According to the California Lottery, the Acostas declined a 30-year annuity worth $528.8 million before federal taxes, opting instead for a one-time payment of $327.8 million, as the Tennessee and Florida couples did.

The couple is refusing all interviews and requests for photographs, according to lottery officials. They did release this statement:

“We are thankful and blessed for the rare gift that has been placed in our care. We have engaged a team of advisers to educate and guide us through this process so that we can be good stewards of these new resources.

“While many decisions are still to be made, we have committed nearly all of this new resource to a trust and to charities that are important to us,” their statement continues. “While we are very grateful for the wonderful wishes and encouragement we’ve received, it is not our intention to become public figures, and we ask for and appreciate privacy going forward. Thank you.”

For about seven months, Marvin and Mae Acosta kept to themselves in a home in a quiet cul-de-sac in Eastvale with their neighbors unaware that the couple held a multimillion-dollar winning Powerball ticket.

The couple, who appeared to be in their 40s, moved in around last December but did not interact with other neighbors, said Rodrigo Jimenez, 67, who lives in a house nearby.

“They don’t say hi, they don’t say nothing,” Jimenez said.

Jimenez said he saw two large moving trucks pack up the house and leave Friday.

A next-door neighbor, who would only give her name as Emily, said Marvin Acosta would sometimes wave to her, but she didn’t know much about the family.

They had two children, a girl who appeared to be 15, and a boy of 4 or 5, she said. The girl would sometimes play basketball out front, Emily said.

She, like other neighbors, was surprised to learn that the Acostas won the lottery.

“I’m very happy for them,” said Maria Franco, 67, who said she never spoke to them once.

The cul-de-sac is part of the Brooke Terrace neighborhood not far from Roosevelt High School in Eastvale. No cars were in the driveway or in front of the Acosta home, a tan and brown-trim colored stucco home with a brown tile roof. The grass and bushes out front were neatly manicured.

“For having that much money I’m surprised they lived here,” said another neighbor, Josh Schreter, 37.

The winners remained shrouded in mystery for months. Initially, several hoaxters claimed ownership of the golden ticket. Meanwhile, Atwal collected his $1 million for owning the business that sold the ticket, and the clerk who handled the transaction, M. Faroqui, enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame, landing a guest spot on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

Approached by reporters Tuesday morning with the news, Atwal asked: “Are you sure?”

After hearing that the news came from state lottery officials, he added that he’s “so happy for them. And I’m glad that they play here.”

Powerball is played in 44 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Unlike the California-only SuperLotto Plus jackpot winners — who must come forward with their ticket within 180 days of the draw date — Powerball winners have a year to stake their claim.

Since news spread about the history-making ticket, business is booming, Atwal added. He’s seen a 30 percent uptick in sales overall, with an 80 percent increase in lottery ticket sales.

Asked if people feel lucky in Chino Hills, he said, “Yes, they are.”

Staff writer Neil Nisperos contributed to this report.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was edited to correct the spelling of Rodrigo Jimenez and the location of Roosevelt High School.

Finally! Chino Hills holder of $528 million Powerball lotto ticket comes forward Share this: Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new

Finally! Owners of Chino Hills Powerball ticket claim share of $1.6 billion

7-Eleven franchise owner Balbir Atwal holds one of the “Millionaire Made Here” lottery signs in his Chino Hills store, where one of the winning Powerball tickets was sold.

(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Customers take pictures of the counter at the 7-Eleven in Chino Hills, where one of three winning Powerball tickets was sold.

(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

7-Eleven employee Bally Gosl processes a customer Powerball ticket on the lotto machine that dispensed a winning ticket in Chino Hills.

(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Lottery official Terry White, top, and store owner Balbir Atwal hang a “Millionaire Made Here” poster at the 7-Eleven in Chino Hills.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Lottery official Terry White hangs a “Millionaire Made Here” poster at the 7-Eleven in Chino Hills that sold one of three winning Powerball tickets.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

7-Eleven franchise owner Balbir Atwal, who will receive $1 million for selling a winning ticket, holds a Powerball poster as media crowd around at the Chino Hills store.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Residents of Chino Hills crowd into a 7-Eleven where at least one of the winning tickets was sold in the Powerball which had a jackpot in excess of $1.5 billion. Employee M. Faroqui, center, sold the winning ticket.

(Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)

Residents of Chino Hills crowd into a 7-Eleven where at least one of the winning tickets was sold in Powerball, which had a jackpot in excess of $1.5 billion.

(Michael Robinson Chávez / Los Angeles Times)

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Neighbors say that Marvin and Mae Acosta moved into their tidy, new Eastvale home in Riverside County late last year.

Then, about a week ago, moving vans appeared out front. On Friday, the couple walked into the California Lottery’s office in Van Nuys with a Powerball ticket for the record Jan. 12 jackpot worth $1.6 billion. Their share of the pot before taxes was estimated at $528.8 million. The Acostas, who purchased the ticket at a 7-Eleven in Chino Hills, opted for the lump sum payment of $327.8 million before federal taxes.

Lottery officials said that by law, the lucky couple would have to be publicly identified after they came forward. The Acostas had the weekend to brace for the onslaught of attention.

On Tuesday, the blinds on the home on Glover Court were closed and no one appeared to be in. Maria Franco, who lives across the road, said she was very happy to hear about the family’s win, though she didn’t know them very well. Like others in the neighborhood, she bought her own Powerball tickets when the jackpot soared in January and had wondered if the winners would ever come forward.

The Acostas requested privacy, lottery officials said. In lieu of interviews, they released a statement:

“We are thankful and blessed for the rare gift that has been placed in our care. We have engaged a team of advisors to educate and guide us through this process so that we can be good stewards of these new resources. While many decisions are still to be made, we have committed nearly all of this new resource to a Trust and to charities that are important to us. While we are very grateful for the wonderful wishes and encouragement we’ve received, it is not our intention to become public figures, and we ask for and appreciate privacy going forward. Thank you.”

Speculation surrounded the identity of the Chino Hills ticket owner for months. The January jackpot was the biggest in U.S. lottery history, and the two other winners, from Tennessee and Florida, came forward within days of the drawing.

A Pomona nurse mistakenly believed she owned the winning ticket after her son pulled a prank on her.

But the Acostas opted to stay silent until they got their affairs in order, said lottery spokesman Alex Traverso.

“They did all the stuff we hoped they would … they got a lawyer, made a plan, got everything squared away so they could get their claim and sort of disappear,” he said. “They’re going to fall off the grid. That’s going to be an interesting challenge.”

The 7-Eleven that sold the winning ticket received the maximum award of $1 million.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna on Twitter.

The owners of the Chino Hills Powerball ticket that shares a third of the record $1.6 billion jackpot won in January has finally come forward, California State Lottery officials announced Tuesday.