"We are making history in Florida," said Florida Lottery Secretary Cynthia O'Connell at a Tallahassee press conference on Wednesday afternoon, before announcing that a still myserious 84-year-old woman named Gloria C. Mackenzie had finally claimed last month's Powerball jackpot, worth over $590 million. "We make history every day, because we have a lot of winners in Florida," she added, before discussing the details of what she said was the "largest winning lottery ticket in American lottery history." (The second largest was $550 million, in November 2012.) Mackenzie elected to take a lump sum worth $370,895,780 before taxes, rather than the 30-year installment plan, under which she should have received $19 million per annum. Reading a statement prepared by an attorney for the winner, who didn't show up to her own press conference, O'Connell explained that Mackenzie purchased the ticket at a Publix supermarket in the Tampa exurb of Zephyrhills after the customer ahead of her in line allowed her to go first. "We hope everyone gives us our opportunity to maintain our privacy," the statement added.
Mackenzie's background remains a bit mysterious. During a question-and-answer session following the press conference, O'Connell said she did not know where Mackenzie resided, and could only say where she purchased the ticket. Searches on Google, PACER, and LexisNexis didn't turn up much, except a potential reference in a 2009 obituary and a mention in a 1996 Hamilton (Ontario) Spectator article concerning a local criminal. (O'Connell confirmed that the k in Mackenzie's last name is not capitalized, which narrowed the searches.) Older Canadians are known for purchasing real estate in Florida, so it's not inconceivable she would have lived in Canada at some point.
Update, 5:05 PM — Mackenzie was photographed after she claimed her winnings at the Florida Lottery's Tallahassee office a few hours after Wednesday's press conference. She did not speak to reporters on scene.
"This is a very large amount of money," O'Connell said near the end of the Q&A session. "It changes your life." She congratulated Mackenzie on "a lifetime of happiness with her new fortune" before dismissing the reporters present.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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