The Biggest Jackpot in History

Good things come to those who wait, and for Gloria MacKenzie the wait was really worth the win. After years of playing the lottery, the 84-year-old grandmother from Zephyrhills, Florida, won the biggest-ever Powerball jackpot last May 2013.

Her choice of the numbers 10, 13, 14, 22 and 52 won her $590 million. However, she opted to forego annuity and instead received a lump sum of $370 million, although it was whittled down to $278 after taxes.

MacKenzie has since bought a $1.2 million house in Jacksonville where her son Scott, 57, also lives. Her new house is in the gated community of the Glen Kernan Country Club in Ponte Vedra Beach and has a library, a movie theater, walk-in closets and an indoor pool.

Prior to the mansion, MacKenzie lived in a trailer in Zephyrhills for 25 years with her husband Ralph who passed away in 2005. Just last year her dwindling resources forced her to abandon the trailer and she moved to a modest $30,000 bungalow in Zephyrhills. The small duplex house had a tin roof and was surrounded by a wire-link fence. A far cry from the 6,322-square-foot five-bedroom home she has now.

Scott says he is planning to move into the new house with his boyfriend Jerry Cruz, 65, as he is worried about how she would cope with living on her own. Aside from Scott, MacKenzie has another son, Larry, and two daughters Melinda and Jaimie. She has four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Still the same

Apart from the house, MacKenzies’ lifestyle has not changed despite her newfound wealth. She has not gone on any wild shopping sprees like other lottery winners and still keeps to herself like she used to in her old Zephyrhills neighborhood. She still shops at Wal-Mart, eats at the local restaurants she has become familiar with and is still being driven around by her son Scott in his old Ford Focus.

Another neighbor in her old Zephyrhills neighborhood said he was surprised to see her still returning to the bungalow even after she had been informed of the Powerball results.

Her one notable exception is her $2 million donation to fix the roof of the aging Schenck High School in East Ilinocket, Maine, where she lived before moving to Florida. One of her daughters also teaches Biology in that school.

East Illinocket school superintendent Quenten Clark said even as the donation was made, no statements were released.


She has never spoken publicly about her winning the lottery and has only issued a statement read by a Florida lottery representative.

“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,” the statement read.

Biggest prize ever

Her prize is not just the biggest Powerball jackpot ever; it is also the biggest jackpot to be ever awarded to a single winner. The last biggest Powerball jackpot awarded to a single person was $340 million awarded to a winner from Medford, Oregon in October 2005, before that it was $314.9 million awarded to Andrew Jackson Whittaker Jr. in December 2002.

MacKenzie stood to receive more than $278 million as she could have received the $590 million in annual payments for 30 years. One cannot presume to read her mind, but perhaps she was thinking she could no longer wait another 30 years.

What are two things we can learn from this story? Don’t get the wealth go to your head. And, if you are feeling lucky, buy Powerball tickets online while you still have your youth.

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