Mega Millions Winner Was Bankrupt

Juan Rodriguez, 49, sole winner of a $149 million lottery, left, and his wife Iris attend a news conference in New York, Sunday, Nov. 21, 2004. The winnings from Friday night's, Nov. 19, 2004, drawing are said to be the biggest single jackpot payout in New York state lottery history (AP Photo/John Marshall Mantel)
CBS
One month ago, Juan Rodriguez had 78 cents in his checking account. With that pocket change and just $50 cash in hand, he filed for bankruptcy.

Today, he is a mega-millionaire. The latest winner of the New York lottery, Rodriguez held the ticket that won a $149 million jackpot last week.

It's a quick turnaround from rags to riches for longtime parking garage attendant. Just last Friday, a bankruptcy court trustee in New York said that his Chapter 7 bankruptcy case was severe enough that the Queens man wouldn't have to repay any of his debts, as thesmokinggun.com first reported.

As of Sunday, Rodriguez, 49, who makes just more than $30,000 per year according to his federal court records, hadn't quit his job at a Union Square-area Manhattan parking lot.

Rodriquez bought the winning ticket at a newsstand on Second Ave. in Manhattan. His five numbers and Mega Ball matched the winning numbers, he learned Friday. On the same day, a court appointee filed a "report of no distribution" on Rodriquez's bankruptcy claim, apparently ignorant to the news of his win. The report, when complete, negates the filer's debt to creditors.

Rodriquez's owed $2,200 to the Internal Revenue Service and about $42,000 to credit cards and various lines of credit, his bankruptcy filing shows. There is no indication that the federal court will overturn any of its decisions.

Now, after opting for the single, immediate payment of $88 million, his rent of $1,300 should be no problem. Nor should his $100 per month in "tobacco" product spending trouble his family.

In a press conference Friday, New York Lottery director Nancy Palumbo said Rodriquez was a Colombia native who earned his U.S. citizenship in 1986.

"Today he's going to start living the rest of his dream as the richest man in New York Lottery history," she said.