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BRAINTREE, Mass. — A 53-year-old Massachusetts hospital worker stepped forward Thursday to claim the biggest undivided lottery jackpot in U.S. history — a US$ 758.7 million ($ 950.1-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.”
Wanczyk chose to take a lump-sum payment of US$ 480 million, or US$ 336 million after taxes, lottery officials said. Winners who take a gradual payout stand to get more money spread out over several decades.
Even after paying taxes on the winnings, Wanczyk is worth more than some small countries such as Micronesia, which has a gross domestic product of US$ 322 million, or the Pacific islands of Palau, with a GDP of US$ 293 million, according to 2016 figures from the World Bank.
Wanczyk worked for 32 years in a clerical job in the nursing department at Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, the hospital said.
The jackpot is the largest ever won with a single ticket. It is the second-largest U.S. lottery prize, ahead of a US$ 656 million Mega Millions prize won by three people in 2012. But Wednesday’s big prize is still dwarfed by a US$ 1.6 billion Powerball jackpot divvied up between three winners in January 2016.
Wanczyk has two adult children, a daughter and a son.
“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.
The lottery corrected the site where the single winning ticket was sold to Chicopee, Mass. Overnight, it had mistakenly announced the winning ticket was sold at a shop in Watertown, just outside Boston.
Massachusetts Lottery Executive Director Michael 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 US$ 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.
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.
TOP 10 LARGEST U.S. JACKPOTS
Here is a look at the 10 largest U.S. jackpots and the states where the winning tickets were sold:
2. US$ 758.7 million, Powerball, Aug. 23, 2017 (one ticket, from Massachusetts)
4. US$ 648 million, Mega Millions, Dec. 17, 2013 (two tickets, from California and Georgia)
5. US$ 590.5 million, Powerball, May 18, 2013 (one ticket, from Florida)
6. US$ 587.5 million, Powerball, Nov. 28, 2012 (two tickets, from Arizona and Missouri)
8. US$ 536 million, Mega Millions, July 8, 2016 (one ticket, from Indiana)
9. US$ 487 million, Powerball, July 30, 2016 (one ticket, from New Hampshire)
10. US$ 448.4 million, Powerball, Aug. 7, 2013 (three tickets, one from Minnesota and two from New Jersey)