West Palm Beach resident Ezequiel Perez has had his share of tragedy in recent weeks. His father died early Monday morning in Cuba. His home was heavily damaged by a fire earlier this month.
On Saturday night, he got some good news.
Perez, 51, of West Palm Beach, was the winner of Saturday's $33 million Florida Lotto jackpot.
He bought his Quick Pick-winning ticket Saturday at a Lake Worth supermarket and hit the 1-in-23 million chance.
Perez wasted no time claiming his winnings, according to Alfred Bea, spokesman for the Florida Lottery. He was at Lottery headquarters in Tallahassee at 9 a.m. Monday, Bea said.
Perez opted for a lump-sum prize of $17,695,051.38 instead of taking the full $33 million in payments over 30 years.
"He came in very, very early," Bea said. "He clearly was looking forward to it."
The $33 million jackpot is tied for the second-largest this year. A $33 million ticket won Lotto on April 11. The year's top Lotto prize was $42 million on Feb. 10.
Florida Lottery's largest Lotto jackpots were $100 million on Sept. 15, 1990, and Dec. 14, 2002.
Perez couldn't be reached for comment. After claiming his prize, he was headed to Cuba for his father's funeral, said Roman Perez, his uncle.
Ezequiel Perez has two grown sons who also live in West Palm Beach, family members said.
Iliana Cordero, 34, sold Perez the winning ticket at 1:29 p.m. Saturday at Sedano's Supermarket on North Dixie Highway.
Customers have started calling her La Senorita Suerte — Lady Luck — because she has sold a number of winning lottery tickets. On Thursday she sold a $5,000 winning Play Four ticket.
As for Saturday's Lotto drawing, "I didn't win, but I'm very happy about it," she said.
The winning numbers were 6-8-35-37-49-53.
"Everybody has been calling to find out if it was true. It's been crazy," store manager Orestes Jimenez said. "I don't know what it is with this store, but we get a lot of winners."
The store will get $40,000 for selling the winning ticket. Jimenez said it will be used for operating expenses.
Nelida Urtiaga, of West Palm Beach, buys Lotto tickets there almost every week. She comes with her older sister, Ines Chavez.
"I'm so happy it was at Sedano's," she said. "It's good for the whole community."
Employees and regular customers at Sedano's said they hope Perez will come back to visit. "I just want to say congratulations to the guy," Jimenez said.
Perez is the 77th Lotto winner to purchase a winning ticket in Palm Beach County.