California Lottery Insists $2.04 Billion Powerball Winner Is Legitimate Despite Man's Stolen Ticket Claim

"When it comes to the vetting process for big winners, California Lottery has the utmost confidence in its process for doing so," an official told PEOPLE in a statement

California Lottery Director Alva Johnson announces that Edwin Castro won November's record-high $2.04 billion PowerBall jackpot, in Sacramento, Calif. Castro declined to appear at the news conference but said in a written statement he was shocked and ecstatic. The jackpot ticket was sold at Joe's Service Center in Altadena, an unincorporated foothill community northeast of Los Angeles Lottery Jackpot, Sacramento, United States - 14 Feb 2023
California Lottery Director Alva Johnson announces Edwin Castro as winner of $2.04 billion PowerBall jackpot. Photo: Adam Beam/AP/Shutterstock

A man has filed a lawsuit claiming to be the rightful winner of November's $2.04 billion Powerball jackpot, although California Lottery officials insist that they have the right winner.

Just hours before announcing the winning numbers last year, lottery officials shared that the jackpot, originally estimated at $1.9 billion, had climbed to $2.04 billion, "making it the world's largest lottery prize." However, a week after the sole winner was publicly announced, a lawsuit was filed on Feb. 22.

In the complaint, which PEOPLE has reviewed, Jose Rivera claimed to have purchased the ticket from Joe's Service Center in Altadena on Nov. 7, one day before the winning numbers were revealed.

Rivera alleged in the complaint that his ticket was stolen before the drawing by an individual referred to as "Reggie" in the documents. The complaint lists California, the state's lottery commission, Castro, and "Reggie" — a fictitious name, per the document, which Rivera used as he does not know the individual's real name — as defendants.

However, the California Lottery maintains that the correct winner is Edwin Castro, whom they named as the sole recipient of the jackpot on Feb. 14.

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

In the complaint, Rivera alleged that he made "numerous" requests that Reggie return the ticket, but that the defendant refused. He went on to claim that Reggie tried to blackmail him into sharing the jackpot.

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Rivera reached out to the California Lottery shortly after they named Castro as the winner and requested they investigate the claim, according to the court document.

In a letter sent through his lawyers to lottery officials, which was included in the complaint, Rivera asked that they withhold making any payments until an investigation was made. Additionally, Rivera asked to view "any video that purports to depict Edwin Castro purchasing the winning ticket."

In a statement to PEOPLE, the California Lottery said they aren't "authorized to investigate criminal activity among its players" and that "such allegations are subject to investigation only by local law enforcement."

Rivera's attorneys didn't immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

RELATED VIDEO: Winner of Record $2.04 Billion Powerball Jackpot Revealed

Castro was named the winner of the Powerball jackpot on Feb 14. and elected to take the cash value of his prize money, totaling $997.6 million, according to a press release. He did not appear at the press conference, but said in a statement that he was "shocked and ecstatic to have won."

Powerball's previous record for top-winning prize in history came in 2016. That year, three winners from California, Florida and Tennessee shared the $1.586 billion windfall.

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