The Associated Press
BRAINTREE, Mass.–A 53-year-old Massachusetts hospital worker stepped forward yesterday to claim the biggest undivided lottery jackpot in U.S. history–a $758.7 million Powerball prize–after breaking the news to her employer the way the rest of us only dream of.
“I called and told them I will not be coming back,” Mavis L. Wanczyk said.
“The first thing I want to do is just sit back and relax,” she told reporters at a news conference.
Wanczyk chose to take a lump-sum payment of $480 million, or $336 million after taxes, lottery officials said.
Winners who take a gradual payout stand to get more money spread out over several decades.
The previous evening, Wanczyk recalled, she was leaving work with a firefighter and remarked, “It’s never going to be me. It’s just a pipe dream that I’ve always had.”
Then she read the number on her ticket and realized she had won.
Wanczyk worked for 32 years in a clerical job in the nursing department at Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, the hospital said.
About a month ago, she shared a post on Facebook joking that she needed a vacation.
“And by ‘vacation,'” the post read, “I mean I need to move away and find a new job. On a beach. With rum.”
The jackpot is the largest-ever won with a single ticket. It is the second-largest U.S. lottery prize–ahead of a $656-million Mega Millions prize won by three people in 2012.
But Wednesday’s big prize still is dwarfed by a $1.6-billion Powerball jackpot divvied up between three winners in January, 2016.
Wanczyk has two adult children, a daughter and a son.
Massachusetts Treasurer Deb Goldberg said she offered advice to the family about being careful with their new-found wealth.
“A lot of people will be coming at them with all sorts of things,” Goldberg told reporters.
“I highly encourage them to find very, very good lawyers and advisers, and think very, very carefully about how they are going to manage their assets.”
Wanczyk bought a total of five tickets. Two were computer-generated Powerball tickets and three used numbers that she chose.
The winning ticket, she said, was one with numbers that used family birthdays.
Her inspiration for the final digit–the Powerball–came from her penchant for playing the number four number every Friday in a Keno game with her mother, stepfather, and a friend.
The announcement that a winner had come forward came after a turbulent morning in which lottery officials initially misidentified not only the store that sold the winning ticket, but the town.
The lottery corrected the site where the single winning ticket was sold to Chicopee, Mass.
Overnight, it mistakenly had announced the winning ticket was sold at a shop in Watertown, just outside Boston.
But shortly before 8 a.m., the lottery said it had made a mistake and that the winning ticket was sold at the Pride Station & Store in Chicopee, about halfway across the state.