CHICOPEE, Mass. (WHDH/AP) – A curious public got their first glimpse Thursday of the woman who won the largest single-ticket Powerball prize in U.S. history.
The Massachusetts State Lottery introduced the $758.7 million winner, Mavis Wanczyk, of Chicopee, at an afternoon news conference. Prior to the conference, executive director Michael Sweeney described Wanczyk as “a prototypical Massachusetts resident.”
“The first thing I want to do is sit back and relax. I’ve called work and told them I will not be coming back,” Wanczyk said.
Wanczyk said she had worked at Mercy Medical Center for more than 30 years and that she had been hoping to retire for about 12 years.
Wanczyk says she was leaving work Wednesday night with a Chicopee firefighter when she realized she won. She says he followed her home to make sure she got there safely.
The 53-year-old mother of two said “I had a pipe dream, and that pipe dream came true.”
When asked what she was going to do to celebrate, Wanczyk said she was “going to hide” in her bed.
The announcement that a winner had come forward came Thursday 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, Massachusetts. 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. Reporters had descended on the Watertown store hours before it opened around 6:30 a.m.
Sweeney said officials were manually recording the names of the retailers that sold the winning ticket and transcribed it incorrectly. Sweeney issued an apology for the confusion created by the error, but said lottery staff remained thrilled that a jackpot winning ticket and two $1 million winning tickets were sold in Massachusetts – one of those at the Watertown location.
Mike Donatelli, a spokesman for the Pride Station & Store in Chicopee, said the store was notified shortly before 8 a.m. that it had actually sold the record jackpot ticket.
Sweeney said the store will pocket $50,000 for selling the jackpot winner. Bob Bolduc, owner of the Pride store chain, said the proceeds would be donated to local charities.
“The phone started ringing at 8 o’clock” Bolduc said. “We were as surprised as everybody else. We’re happy for our customer and we’re happy for the charities.”
The lucky numbers from Wednesday night’s drawing were 6, 7, 16, 23 and 26, and the Powerball number was 4.
Powerball is played in 44 states plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, all of which collectively oversee the game. Drawings are held twice a week. Five white balls are drawn from a drum containing 69 balls and one red ball is selected from a drum with 26 balls. Players can choose their numbers or let a computer make a random choice.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker says he is disappointed that he didn’t win, but is happy that it was sold in his state.
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