Massachusetts lottery officials on Thursday, Aug. 24 said that a 53-year-old health care worker who lives in Chicopee won $758 million in a Powerball —the largest prize for a single ticket holder in the contest’s history.
The woman, Mavis Wanczyk, showed up at an afternoon news conference to claim her prize.
She tragically lost her ex-husband last year in a hit-and-run accident while he was at a bus stop, the New York Post reported. A crazed driver lost control of his vehicle, slamming into the bus stop, killing William Wanczyk, 55, according to MailOnline.
Officials said that the driver was speeding and his headlights weren’t on. Peter Sheremeta, 20, was later identified as the driver responsible for the fatal crash.
According to Mass Live, he was charged earlier this summer with motor vehicle homicide, manslaughter while operating under the influence, and leaving the scene of a crash that caused a death.
William Wanczyk had been a firefighter with the Northampton Fire Department between 1986 and 1989.
After winning the lottery, Mavis Wanczyk spoke about what she will do next.
“I wanted to get this over and done with, and then everyone would leave me alone,” Wanczyk, the mother of a 31-year-old daughter and a 26-year-old son, told reporters on Thursday. She said she had worked for the past 32 years at a Springfield hospital, but added, “I’ve called them and told them I will not be coming back.”
Powerball said on its website that the single ticket matched all six numbers drawn on Wednesday night: 6, 7, 16, 23, 26 and the Powerball of 4.
Wanczyk said she learned of her win when a colleague encouraged her to check her ticket as she left work on Wednesday.
“I said, ‘I know it’s never going to be me; it’s just a pipe dream,'” Wanczyk said, adding that she was shocked to find “I am a winner.”
She noted, “Last night I didn’t feel like I won. Today as I’m driving here I’m like, ‘This can’t be true. This can’t be.’ And now it’s like ‘Ahhh, I’m a winner … I’m scared, but I’ll be okay.”
“I just buy it because of luck. This is a chance I had to take,” she said, adding that she plays the lottery on a regular basis.
The winning ticket was sold at a Pride convenience store in Chicopee, which is located about 90 miles (145 km) west of Boston, according to the Massachusetts State Lottery. The owner of that store plans to donate to charity the $50,000 prize he will receive for selling the winning ticket, the commission’s executive director, Michael Sweeney, told reporters.
The state lottery had originally said the winning ticket was sold in Watertown, a suburb of Boston, but corrected its announcement hours later.
“This was the result of a human error,” Sweeney said. “Our internal systems, and I want to be clear about this, our internal systems always had the correct information.”
Wanczyk will have a choice of receiving annual payments totaling $758.7 million over 29 years, or a lump sum of more than $440 million, before taxes.
Beyond retiring early, she did not say how she planned to spend her winnings.
The odds of a ticket having all six winning numbers are 292.2 million to 1, according to the Multi-State Lottery Association.
Powerball tickets are sold in 44 U.S. states, and Washington, D.C.; Puerto Rico; and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
No one had won the Powerball’s top prize in the twice-weekly drawings since June 10, when a California man won $447.8 million.
Reuters contributed to this report.