Virginia Man Loses $1.5B by Changing His Powerball Numbers But Still Becomes a Millionaire

Carlos Gutierrez of Centreville bought a lottery ticket at a sandwich shop and matched five out of six numbers, according to the Virginia Lottery

<p>Getty</p> A hand holds an expired Arizona Powerball lottery ticket with a black background on December 20, 2021 in North Las Vegas, Nevada.


A hand holds an expired Arizona Powerball lottery ticket with a black background on December 20, 2021 in North Las Vegas, Nevada.

A Virginia man lost his chance to win $1.5 billion by switching his Powerball numbers at the last minute but became a millionaire anyway, according to multiple reports.

On his way to work, Carlos Gutierrez of Centreville made a stop at Lee’s Sandwiches in Falls Church to order coffee and a chicken sandwich, per a press release by the Virginia Lottery. While waiting for his order, he noticed a lottery machine and bought a ticket for the Oct. 9 Powerball drawing, per the release.

“The next day, when he stopped at the same location on his way to work, the store was buzzing with excitement,” the release said. "A ticket bought there had won $1 million in the previous night’s drawing."

<p>Getty</p> A Washington state Powerball lottery ticket


A Washington state Powerball lottery ticket

“Maybe it’s me,” Mr. Gutierrez thought, per the release, which added he was right. Gutierrez won the million-dollar prize by matching the first five numbers on his ticket. The numbers drawn that night were 16-34-46-55-67, with 14 as the Powerball number.

“Mr. Gutierrez said he initially selected all six of those numbers but at the last minute changed his Powerball number to 19,” the release said. “Had he stuck with those initial numbers, he would have won the jackpot.”

Related: Michigan Man Wins His Second Big Lottery Prize in 10 Years: 'It’s Hard to Believe'

As a small business owner, Gutierrez said expanding his business is one of the things he might do with some of his winnings, per the release.

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In March, a California man made another big purchase since winning the record-breaking $2.04 billion Powerball lottery prize.

Related: Md. Man Wins $50K on Lottery 3 Times in 11 Months with the Same Exact Number: 'You Never Know'

After splurging $25.5 million on a mansion in the Hollywood Hills, Edwin Castro acquired a second property in Altadena, close to the gas station where he purchased his winning lottery ticket, according to Dirt.

The grand lottery prize was announced on Nov. 8, but the winner did not come forward for several months. The Powerball jackpot was won by “one lucky ticket sold at Joe’s Service Center in Altadena” that matched all six numbers. On Feb. 14, Castro was revealed as the winner by California lottery officials. He took home $997.6 million after taxes.

Another man filed a lawsuit claiming to be the rightful winner of the jackpot instead of Castro a week later.

Jose Rivera said he bought the ticket at Joe’s Service Center in Altadena on Nov. 7 — the day before the winning numbers came out — but claimed someone named “Reggie” stole the tickets, according to the complaint that PEOPLE reviewed at the time.

However, in a statement to PEOPLE, California lottery officials maintained that Castro was the correct winner.

"When it comes to the vetting process for big winners, California Lottery has the utmost confidence in its process for doing so," California Lottery spokesperson Carolyn Becker said. "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."

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