L.A.’s newest millionaires: the Herreras

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Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — The newest known millionaire in Los Angeles is Nabor Herrera, the owner of Las Palmitas Mini Market in downtown Los Angeles who will receive a $1 million bonus payment for selling the $1.08 billion Powerball ticket to the winner his believes to be an elderly woman from their local Latino community.

“Hispanic lady, an old lady — 100 percent a Latina,” Herrera’s stepdaughter, Angelica Menjivar, proudly told The New York Post, though, she is, an as-yet-unidentified lottery player.

“It’s a lot of money for her, which is great, god bless her,” she said.

Menjivar said her family would be reviewing security footage to confirm their suspicions of who they think became a billionaire.

“It’s a surprise for me,” said Herrera — a father of four who has owned the market for seven years — when he arrived for work and was greeted like a celebrity on the morning after the Powerball announcement last week. “I don’t know what it is, filming or what?”

“I didn’t know, I am finding out right now when they have me surrounded. They didn’t want to let me park.”
He said he plans to use the money to invest in more stores, as well as to expand Las Palmitas Mini Market, which is located up against Santee Alley in the Fashion District steps from Skid Row. And he may also take a vacation, telling KTLA a trip to Cabo San Lucas or Cancun might be in his future.

But on the morning after the Powerball announcement, Herrera was clueless as everyone else asked who the big winner had been.

“I honestly don’t know who bought the ticket,” he said in a phone interview. “I have so many customers it could have been one of them.”

He said he was eager to check two tickets of his own he had purchased. Wouldn’t that have been something?

Asked if he thought it might have been someone living on Skid Row, he thought for a moment. 

“I honestly don’t know,” he said. “Wouldn’t that be something?”

Herrera recalled that three of his customers bought a large share of tickets, and he hoped the winner is one of his many regulars. 

“Blessed, thank God someone won,” he said. “We also get a little bit.”

A little bit? Well, compared to $1.08 billion, or a lump-sum payment of $558.1 million, both before taxes, according to Powerball

The ticket sold at Herrera’s shop was the only one in the nation with all five numbers and the Powerball number in the multi-state lottery game, according to the California Lottery.

As for Herrera, the million-dollar bonus paycheck he has coming to him from Powerball didn’t immediately change him.

When the reporters and photographers briefly left, he carried on with his day, unloading bottles of water and other supplies for his market from the trunk of a car parked at one of the metered spots along the street.

But Herrera still had a big day ahead. Powerball officials had arrived planning to use his store for a news conference later in the morning. They changed out lottery signs and had brought along large replica checks in English and Spanish to use in their promotion. 

At the news conference, lottery officials presented a giant symbolic check to store owner Herrera and his family, and hung signs saying, “billionaire made here.”

On the sidewalk, a black marker was used to change another sign from “Millionaire Made Here” to “Billionaire Made Here.”

Nearby, store small owners watched with curiosity and perhaps envy. Their sidewalk display of racks of clothes offered cheap dresses at three for $10.

By twist of fate, Las Palmitas Mini Market is 13 miles from the convenience store where Powerball winner Edwin Castro purchased his ticket for last November’s $2.04 billion jackpot — the largest in U.S. history.

On the morning of July 20, amid the crush of television cameras and media crowding around the store, a woman reportedly walked into the store yelling and claiming to be the billion-dollar winner. But she quickly turned, got into her car and drove away, so it was uncertain if she really was holding the winning ticket.

According to lottery officials, people claiming to win the lottery are carefully vetted, so the identity of the winner likely won’t be known for some time.

But the identity of the latest millionaire is known.

“This is hard to believe,” said Herrera on the morning that his family’s life changed. “Things like this can happen in America. You just have to believe.”


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