$590 Million Powerball Winner Revealed

When Gloria MacKenzie went to a Florida supermarket near Tampa last month to buy a Powerball ticket, another person in line did something nice for the 84-year-old widow.

"While in line at Publix, another lottery player was kind enough to let me go ahead of them in line to purchase the winning Quick Pick ticket," she said in a statement Wednesday.

The nice gesture turned out to be a life-changing one for MacKenzie and her family. She came forward Wednesday to claim the biggest undivided lottery jackpot in history, $590 million.

A retiree from Maine and a mother of four who lives in a modest, tin-roof house in Zephyrhills, Fla., where the lone winning ticket in the May 18 drawing was sold, MacKenzie took her prize in a lump sum of just over $370 million. After federal taxes, she is getting about $278 million, lottery officials said.

Wearing large sunglasses and dressed in a pink sweater and white pants, she clasped her son's arm after visiting the lottery offices as they made their way to a silver Ford Focus and left quickly. She did not speak to a crowd of reporters outside the building. She was accompanied at the lottery offices by two unidentified attorneys.

MacKenzie bought the winning ticket at a Publix supermarket in the town of about 13,300, which is about 30 miles northeast of Tampa. It is best known for the bottled spring water that bears its name — and now, for one of the biggest lottery winners of all time.

The $590 million was the second-largest lottery jackpot in history, behind a $656 million Mega Millions prize in March 2012, but that sum was split, with three winning tickets.

MacKenzie let the lottery computers generate the numbers at random. She said she had previously bought four other tickets for the drawing.

"We are grateful with this blessing of winning the Florida Lottery Powerball jackpot," she said in a statement read by lottery officials. "We hope that everyone would give us the opportunity to maintain our privacy for our family's benefit."

The winner had 60 days to claim the prize as a lump sum payout or 180 days as an annualized 30 payout. Lottery spokesman David Bishop said MacKenzie, her lawyers and her financial adviser spent about two hours going through the necessary paperwork.

"They had clearly been preparing for this. They took all this time to get everything in order," Bishop said.
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The current multi-state lotto jackpot seem small in comparison to MacKenzie’s win.
POWERBALL
06/08/2013
$60,000,000 est
Cash Option:$36,600,000

MEGA MILLIONS
06/07/2013
$14,000,000 est
Cash Option:$10,100,000

Zephyrhills awaits the Powerball winner

It's been two long weeks since the small city of Zephyrhills learned that a $590 million Powerball ticket was sold at a supermarket here.

No one expected the winner to come forward in the first days after the announcement. After all, curious residents reasoned, the person might need a few days to absorb the shock, or to consult with financial advisers.

But then a week passed, and more, and now folks are so anxious to know the winner's identity they could jump out of their skin.

"Being in a small town, everybody knows everybody and in some cases, everybody's business," said Dave Walters, a longtime reporter at the Zephyrhills News community newspaper. "It's hard to keep a secret in this town, but this is one of the biggest mysteries we've had in a long, long time."

Rumors were swirling about who the winner could be: Publix deli employees, single moms working at Wal-Mart -- even the cousin of a friend of a guy who lived clear in another county.

"Anybody who did not show up for work on that Monday was considered to be the lottery winner," Walters said. "If you had the flu and didn't show up for work, everyone thought you were the lottery winner. If you took a personal day or a sick day, they thought you had won the lottery."

Joe Abed, who owns Manolo's Italian restaurant in the historic downtown, thinks the ticket was sold to a senior citizen.

"It's a conspiracy theory," he said, using his hands to make quote marks. "I believe it's a senior citizen that purchased the ticket and they just have no idea that they won the ticket."

Customers casually come and go from the Publix supermarket where the winning ticket was sold as the town of 13,337 does its best to contain itself while still not knowing who the winner is.

Marsha Decena, a Zephyrhills clothing store owner, said she's anxious to find out who won.

"I've heard so many different rumors through town, from it being a 23- or 26-year-old woman to somebody might have washed it in their pocket, the ticket is just lost and they don't know that they won," she said. "It's crazy."

The winner has 60 days from the date of the May 18 drawing to claim a lump-sum payment, and until mid-November to claim annual cash payments.

Zephyrhills resident Don Lawrence thinks the winner is just lining up legal and accounting staff.

"Lost the ticket or something like that? No, I don't think so," he said. "I think somebody's taking their time, doing it the right way."

According to the Florida Lottery website, if a Powerball jackpot isn't claimed within 180 days from the draw date, "the funds to pay the unclaimed jackpot will be returned to the lottery members in their proportion of sales for the jackpot rollover series."