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Florida woman claims massive Powerball pot, pockets more than $370 million

By Matt Smith, CNN
updated 5:42 PM EDT, Wed June 5, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Winner says someone let her go ahead of them to buy ticket
  • Gloria Mackenzie, 84, claims second-biggest Powerball jackpot
  • She'll pocket $370.9 million in a one-time, pre-tax payout

(CNN) -- Somewhere, someone is kicking themselves for being nice to a little old lady.

Gloria Mackenzie, 84, came forward to claim the second-largest U.S. lottery jackpot, more than two weeks after the $590.5 million Powerball drawing on May 18, Florida Lottery officials announced Wednesday. She passed up a payout spread over 30 years for a somewhat smaller one-time lump sum, pocketing $370.9 million before taxes, Lottery Secretary Cynthia O'Connell said.

Powerball winner allowed to skip in line

Mackenzie bought her winning ticket at a supermarket in Zephyrhills, north of Tampa. She did not appear at Wednesday's announcement, but in a statement O'Connell read to reporters, she said it was the fifth ticket she'd purchased for that 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," Mackenzie said.

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"We are grateful for this blessing of winning the Florida Lottery Powerball jackpot and appreciate the interest of the public, the state of Florida and the lottery. We hope that everyone will give us the opportunity to maintain our privacy for our family's benefit."

The amount of the prize ballooned to $590 million as the drawing approached, with Florida lottery officials selling about $45,000 worth of tickets an hour at the peak. That total was surpassed only by a $656 million Mega Millions drawing in March 2012, split among winners in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland.

Why you keep playing the lottery

Mackenzie was accompanied by her son, a "trusted family friend and her legal and financial advisers" when she came in to the lottery's Tallahassee headquarters to get her winning ticket validated, O'Connell said. She said Mackenzie waited "to make sure they were ready to handle the types of responsibility that come with that kind of a jackpot win."

CNN's Joe Sutton and John Couwels contributed to this report.

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