ALBUQUERQUE, N.M — Felipe Pina of Los Ojos, N.M., plans to spend a couple of weeks finishing up the work left in his auto repair shop in Chama, then he's going to close it and retire.
Pina, 57, came forward Wednesday to claim the $62.8 million Powerball jackpot sold May 23. The New Mexico Lottery announced last week that the winning ticket had been sold in the state and recommended the then-unidentified winner seek legal and financial advice before turning it in.
Pina said, however, that in the rural part of northern New Mexico where he lives, it didn't take long before everyone knew.
Pina, who declined to answer personal questions about his family or business, said he buys a lottery ticket before the Powerball drawings every Wednesday and Saturday, usually at the same place that sold him the winning ticket, the Giant Sundial gasoline station in Chama.
And he put this ticket where he always puts his lottery tickets — in his cup holder.
After hearing the winner was from New Mexico, he checked the ticket last Thursday after leaving the shop he's operated for 21 years — Pina Truck and Auto Repair.
"I laughed. I looked at it about three times," Pina said. "I put my reading glasses on."
Girlfriend gets the news
Then he went home to his girlfriend, asked her if she believed in miracles and told her, "I just hit the Powerball."
His life, he said, will be different because he'll have "millions compared to thousands."
Pina said he hasn't spent any of the winnings yet, but he'd like to buy a nice car, a nice house, pay bills, help his son Phillip Arthur with a college education "and maybe hit all 16 Oakland Raiders games."
Eventually, he said, he might open another shop, this one to fix up classic cars. He already owns a '64 Ford Falcon Sprint and he'd like a '55 Chevy to fix up.
He wouldn't say whether he intends to take the nearly $30 million cash payout or an annuity that would pay the full $62.8 million over 30 years. Lottery officials said taxes will take about 31 percent.
Pina becomes New Mexico's fourth Powerball winner. A group of employees at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque claimed a $131 million Powerball jackpot in November 2000; Isabell Delgado of Las Cruces claimed a $32 million jackpot in February 2002; and John San Cartier, an airman from Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, won a $93.4 million Powerball in August 2005.
Powerball, created in 1992, is played in 27 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
New Mexico Lottery employees scurried to arrange Wednesday's brief news conference with Pina, setting out chairs, putting up posters touting the number of New Mexico scholarships the lottery has provided, getting a cake and paper plates, and arranging and rearranging balloons — five white and one red with the New Mexico Lottery's roadrunner logo, representing the Powerball.
The winning numbers — 3, 11, 24, 36 and 38 and the Powerball of 6 — were plastered on poster circles on the wall behind Pina and on a sign in the building's lobby which announced: "New Mexico sold the winning May 23, 2007, ticket."