TALLAHASSEE, Florida (WFLA) – The 84-year-old woman who is now the biggest single lottery winner in U.S. history says she bought her ticket after another customer let her move ahead in the line at a supermarket in her home town of Zephyrhills.
Gloria Mackenzie collected a lump-sum payment of about $370 million — or $270 million after taxes — from the May 18th Powerball drawing. Her winning ticket was one in which the numbers were generated randomly by lottery computers. She had bought five tickets in all.
Mackenzie didn’t speak to reporters at lottery headquarters in Tallahassee today, but issued a statement asking for privacy for her family. A lottery spokesman says Mackenzie, her lawyers and a financial adviser were very prepared when they arrived.
Neighbors of Mackenzie, who lives in a modest gray duplex across from a cow pasture, were surprised to hear that she had won. They say she never mentioned it. One neighbor says, “It couldn’t have happened to a nicer person.”
Another says, “I hope she gets a better place to live.”
Mackenzie told lottery officials when she purchased the ticket, a person let her go in front of them in the line.
Mindy Crandell says she is the person who allowed Mackenzie in front of her.
“We had been standing in line and I was with the my girls and kind of paying attention to them and I turned around and there was a lady standing there that kind of gotten in and she kind of looked at me when the lady said next and I was like, just go ahead. It’s not a big deal,” Crandell said.
In the days ahead, Crandall said it became the joke in her family before the winner was announced.
“The joke was, it will probably be the lady that went in front of you,” she said. Her young daughter downloaded a picture of Mackenzie on her cell phone, as her mother drove.
“She got it when we were driving down the road and she was like, ‘Mom look, the lady’. And actually I stopped. I was like, no way, it can’t be,” she said.
Lottery officials said Mackenzie purchased the winning ticket as a quick pick.