Friday 23 February 2018

Widow, 84, claims £385m jackpot

Powerball winner Gloria Mackenzie, 84, leaves the lottery office after claiming her huge prize (AP/Steve Cannon)
Powerball winner Gloria Mackenzie, 84, leaves the lottery office after claiming her huge prize (AP/Steve Cannon)

An 84-year-old widow who bought a Powerball ticket after another customer let her go ahead in the queue has claimed the biggest undivided lottery jackpot in history: 590 million dollars (£385 million).

Mother-of-four Gloria MacKenzie, who lives in a modest, tin-roof house in Zephyrhills, Florida, where the lone winning ticket in the May 18 draw was sold, took her prize in a lump sum of just over 370 million dollars (£242 million). After government taxes, she will receive about 278 million dollars (£181 million), lottery chiefs said.

She did not speak to reporters outside lottery headquarters in Tallahassee, leaving quickly in a silver Ford Focus with her son and family friends. She was accompanied at the lottery offices by two unidentified lawyers.

Mrs MacKenzie bought the winning ticket at a Publix supermarket in the town of about 13,300, 30 miles north east 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-dollar Mega Millions prize in March 2012, but that sum was split, with three winning tickets.

In a statement read by lottery officials, Mrs MacKenzie said she bought the ticket after another buyer "was kind enough to let me go ahead in line". She let the lottery computers generate the numbers at random and said she also bought four other tickets for the draw.

"We are grateful with this blessing of winning the Florida Lottery Powerball jackpot," the statement said. "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. Lottery spokesman David Bishop said Mrs 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," he said.

Her neighbours offered few details about her life, saying she mostly kept to herself, but they had seen her take short walks along the street and exchanged pleasantries with her. Her house, situated among mostly mobile homes and pre-fabricated houses, has a chain-link fence with a sheet-metal roof and an old TV antenna.

Mrs MacKenzie retired to Zephyrhills more than a decade ago from rural Maine with her husband Ralph, who died in 2005.

Press Association

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