The mystery of the $590 million lottery ticket has finally been solved. Officials have identified the winner of the massive May 18 Powerball jackpot.
At a Wednesday press conference, Florida Lottery officials announced that Gloria MacKenzie, 84, has come forward to claim her $590 million Powerball jackpot. MacKenzie’s winnings constitute the largest Powerball payout in the game’s history.
As winner of the Powerball jackpot, MacKenzie elected for a $370 million lump-sum payout, rather than the $590.5 million over 20 years. To put that number in perspective, the entire annual budget for MacKenzie's hometown of Zephyrhills is $49 million, according to the Associated Press.
McKenzie was the only person in the country to successfully match all six Florida Powerball numbers pulled in the May 18 drawing: 10, 13, 14, 22 and 52, with a winning Powerball of 11.
“This would be the sixth Florida Powerball winner, and right now it’s the sole winner of the largest-ever Powerball jackpot,” Florida Lottery executive Cindy O'Connell told AP after the drawing. “We’re delighted right now that we have the sole winner.”
A town of 13,337 residents, Zephyrhills is located about 30 miles northeast of Tampa, Fla. The winning ticket was reportedly sold at a Publix supermarket in Zephyrhills. After waiting two weeks to learn who had won the $590 million, Zephyrhills residents grew increasingly speculative about the person’s identity.
"Anybody who did not show up for work on that Monday was considered to be the lottery winner," Dave Walters, a reporter at the Zephyrhills News community newspaper, told the Associated Press. "If you had the flu and didn't show up for work, everyone thought you were the lottery winner. If you took a personal day or a sick day, they thought you had won the lottery."
It’s a good thing that MacKenzie came forward. According to the Florida Lottery website, Powerball jackpot winners have 180 days from the drawing date to come forward and claim their prize, or “the unclaimed jackpot will be returned to the lottery members in their proportion of sales for the jackpot rollover series.” In other words, the state of Florida would have claimed $590 million in Powerball winnings.