Gloria MacKenzie: 84-Year-Old Florida Woman Becomes Largest Lotto Winner Ever

The Powerball jackpot winner has stepped forward, putting an end to the biggest, most compelling mystery in my life since I figured out how magnets work in earth science class in middle school.  

Two weeks after the $590.5 million Powerball drawing, 84-year-old Gloria Mackenzie claimed the U.S. lottery jackpot. Logically, she chose the lump-sum option over the 30year payout spread, putting her winnings at $370.9 million before taxes, which makes her the largest single winner in the history of American lottery.

The best/worst/happiest/saddest part of the story is that Mindy Crandell, a 34-year-old mother of two, let Mackenzie go in front of her in line at Publix when she purchased the winning ticket. Mackenzie had stepped in front of Crandell and her daughter in line while Crandell was busy tending to her daughter. But when the Publix employee called Mackenzie out for cuts, Crandell allowed Mackenzie to go ahead. 

Crandell’s family members teased her about letting Mackenzie cut — a joke they are no doubt regretting hugely now. “The joke was, that’s the lady that’s going to win it. I was like, ‘Yeah right, No one is going to win from little Zephyrhills,’” she said. Zephyrhills has a population of about 13,000 and is also “known” as the headquarters of the Zephyrhills bottled water company.

Crandell’s 10-year-old daughter who identified Mackenzie as the woman in front of them in line also provided the best/worst/happiest/saddest quote of the entire story,“It’s better to be patient than to be rich.” Crandell is apparently not bitter about the situation at all, and she said she was glad to be able to use that moment to teach her daughter an important lesson.

Mackenzie has refused to speak with the media, but released a statement through lottery officials. “While in line at Publix, another player was kind enough to let me go ahead of them in line to purchase the winning Quick Pick ticket,” she said.

Mackenzie has not said what she plans to do with the money and her attorney said the family wishes to maintain its privacy. (Under Florida state law the winner of the lottery cannot remain anonymous).

Anytime someone buys a lottery ticket, it's easy to snicker at the “odds” stacked against them and think, “What, like it’s hard or something?” or “You could spend a dollar in way worse ways.” Here’s some perspective:

Your chances of winning the Powerball jackpot: one in 175.2 million

Your chances of being attacked by a shark: one in 11.5 million

Your chances of being struck by lightening: one in 3 million

Your chances of having conjoined twins: one in 200,000

We’re left with a lot of questions. Will you ever let an elderly woman cut in front of you in line again? Will Gloria give Mindy any money? Do they sell Zephyrhills bottled water outside of Zephyrhills? Is this the closest to a real-life Waking Ned Devine we’ll get?

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Kristen Ellingboe

Kristen is currently a journalism and political science student at Emory University.

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