Includes video report
By Todd Northrop
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — At a press conference today, the Florida Lottery announced that the $590.5 million jackpot from the Powerball drawing held on May 18 was claimed by Gloria C. MacKenzie, 84, of Zephyrhills, Florida.
MacKenzie chose to receive her winnings in a one-time, lump-sum payment in the amount of $370,896,780.84.
She did not speak to a crowd of reporters outside lottery headquarters, leaving quickly in a silver Ford Focus with her son, Scott Mackenzie, and family friends. She was accompanied by two attorneys, who left in a separate car.
"We are all about making dreams come true here at the Florida Lottery, and this has been a time of great excitement for Ms. MacKenzie, the Zephyrhills community and the state of Florida," said Florida Lottery Secretary Cynthia O'Connell. "We're thrilled that a Florida resident has won this jackpot, and we wish her every happiness with her new fortune."
The jackpot-winning Powerball Quick Pick ticket was purchased at Publix, located at 7838 Gall Boulevard in Zephyrhills. The Florida Lottery retailer received a bonus incentive of $85,000 on Monday, May 20.
This series of jackpot rollovers generated more than $125 million in sales for the Florida Lottery, resulting in more than $50 million for Florida's Educational Enhancement Trust Fund (EETF).
Ms. MacKenzie provided the following statement to the Florida Lottery:
"Prior to the Lottery drawing, she and her son Scott had an agreement to split any proceeds with each other.
We bought the winning ticket as a single ticket even though we bought four other tickets before the drawing. 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.
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. If you have any inquiries or questions, you may contact our representatives at the law firm of Brant, Abraham, Reiter, McCormick and Johnson or the financial planning firm of Madden Advisory Services, both of Jacksonville, Florida."
The Florida Lottery had scheduled this afternoon's news conference in Tallahassee, promising "big news" about the Powerball winner, after the winner stolled into Lottery headquarters around noon Wednesday.
MacKenzie opted to bypass the entire $590.5 million in 30 annual payments, and instead claimed the one-time lump sum option of $370 million, said Megan Dougherty, a spokesman for the Florida Lottery.
"They just walked right through the door," Dougherty said. "They didn't give anyone a heads-up. We were just as shocked as anyone else. They went up to our front desk to check in to see what they needed to do."
Dougherty said she had 60 days from the date of the drawing to claim a lump-sum prize. She could have waited until mid November to claim annual cash payments.
Despite her request for privacy, MacKenzie's name was revealed at the news conference because under state law, the winner cannot remain anonymous.
Lottery spokesman David Bishop said Mackenzie, her lawyers and financial adviser were very prepared when they arrived, spending 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.
Minutes after the announcement, a dozen reporters in Zephyrhills were camped outside Mackenzie's modest grey duplex, which backs up to a dirt alley and is across from a cow pasture.
Neighbors were surprised and said Mackenzie never mentioned her big win.
"She didn't say anything about it. She's so quiet and secluded. She's usually in the house," said neighbor James Hill. "I'm very happy for her. It couldn't have happened to a nicer person. She was always pleasant and smiling."
Another neighbor, Don Cecil, joked "I hope she gets a better place to live."
Mackenzie's neighbors offered few details about her life, including how long she'd lived there and whether she was married. They said she mostly kept to herself, but they saw her take short walks along the street and exchanged pleasantries with her.
Mackenzie's house, which was situated among mostly mobile home and pre-fabricated houses, had a chain link fence with grey shutters, a tin sheet roof and an old TV antenna.
VIDEO: Watch the press conference
Editor's Note: I apologize for the low volume level of the video. The video feed provided by the Florida Lottery had a barely-audible volume level. I tried boosting the volume as much as possible, but it is still low and you will need to raise the volume on your speakers.
Press Conference: Florida Lottery Announces Winner of Record $590.5 Million Powerball JackpotRaw footage of the Florida Lottery's press conference on June 5, 2013, announcing the winner of the record $590.5 million Powerball jackpot.T5M52Shttp://img.youtube.com/vi/HKh6AhFkEnM/3.jpghttps://youtu.be/HKh6AhFkEnM2013-06-05T16:10:00-05:00
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