An 84-year-old Zephyrhills woman stepped forward Wednesday as the winner of the largest single jackpot in American lottery history, valued at $590.5 million.
Then, without speaking to reporters, she stepped back into the shadows.Lottery officials announced mid morning that the Powerball winner had walked into Florida Lottery headquarters with the winning ticket, which was sold at a Zephyrhills Publix.
Speculation about the winner’s identity, which had been building since the May 18 drawing, hit a fever pitch.
Later, in a press conference, Florida Lottery Secretary Cynthia O’Connell announced the winner as Gloria C. Mackenzie. She lives in a tiny grey duplex on Lane Road, west of downtown, across from a cow pasture. A sticker is affixed to her front door of a hand raised in a “stop” sign with the words “private, no soliciting.”
Mackenzie arrived at lottery headquarters with her son, Scott, a family friend, and her financial and legal advisers, O’Connell said
“They walked right through the headquarters of the Florida Lottery here in Tallahassee and said, ’I have a winning ticket and I’d like to validate it,’” O’Connell said.
They left before the announcement, without a word to the reporters who swarmed them.
In a statement, Mackenzie said she bought the winning ticket as a single ticket, in addition to four others she had already purchased. “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,” her statement said. “We are grateful for this blessing of winning the Florida Lottery Powerball jackpot and appreciate the interest of the public, state of Florida and the Lottery. We hope that everyone will give us an opportunity to maintain our privacy for our family’s benefit.”
O’Connell said Mackenzie had elected to take the lump sum payout — a cool $370 million and change, before taxes.
At the Publix store where the ticket was sold, shoppers were buzzing with news of the winner finally coming forward.
“I’m glad somebody’s going to be a millionaire,” said Mike Castillo.
Added Mike Gregory, who lives north of the city: “We’ve been waiting to see who it is.”