Florida octogenarian claims record Powerball jackpot

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (REUTERS) - An 84-year-old Florida woman claimed last month's record Powerball jackpot on Wednesday and opted to take a lump-sum payment of nearly US$371 million (S$465 million), Florida Lottery officials said.

Winner Gloria C. MacKenzie of Zephyrhills chose the lump sum rather than collecting US$590.5 million in 30 annual payments, Florida lottery secretary Cynthia O'Connell said in a news conference at the state lottery headquarters in Tallahassee.

Ms MacKenzie bought the only US$2 ticket that matched all six winning numbers in the May 18 multistate Powerball drawing, making her the largest sole jackpot winner in United States (US) lottery history.

Ms MacKenzie wore dark sunglasses and linked arms with her son, Mr Scott MacKenzie, as she walked through a phalanx of cameras facing straight ahead. She left the lottery office without saying anything but left behind a statement to be read by Ms O'Connell.

Ms MacKenzie said she and her son had an agreement to split any winnings. She bought the winning ticket at a Publix grocery store after previously buying four other tickets, her statement said.

"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," she said.

"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." She asked for privacy and referred any further inquiries to her lawyer and her financial adviser.

The winner's name had to be revealed under Florida law, but the recipient had no obligation to publicly acknowledge the prize, lottery officials said.

The winning numbers from the drawing were: 10, 13, 14, 22 and 52, with a Powerball number of 11. The odds of winning were put at 1 in 175 million.

The grand prize in the May 18 drawing had accumulated over two months, and surpassed the previous record Powerball payout of US$587.5 million set in November 2012.

The largest jackpot in US history stands at US$656 million, won in the Mega Millions lottery of March 2012. That prize was split between winners in Maryland, Kansas and Illinois.

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