A mistake by the Massachusetts State Lottery on Thursday injected a little extra drama into the massive $758.7 million Powerball drawing — the largest won by a single ticket in U.S. history — after lottery officials initially bungled their announcement and gave the wrong shop and location.
The winning ticket was sold at Pride Station & Store in Chicopee around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. The winner, Chicopee resident Mavis Wanczyk, was revealed at a press conference on Thursday afternoon.
"Last night, it was kind of like, I didn't realize I had won," Wanczyk, 53, said. "Today, as I'm driving here, I'm still like, this isn't true, it can't be. And now it's like, I am a winner. I'm scared, but I'll be OK."
She finally returned home around 7 p.m. Thursday after what she calls a crazy day.
"I have no plans of yet," she said. "I haven't figured out anything yet. It's going to be quite some time before I do, this is overwhelming."
She said she found out she had won after leaving her job at Mercy Medical Center in Springfield on Wednesday night when a friend told her the winning numbers. She said she had bought five Powerball tickets "just for luck."
"This was a chance, a chance I had to take," Wanczyk said.
Lottery officials said she chose to take a lump sum payment of $480 million, or $336 million after taxes.
Wanczyk said the Powerball win will allow her to retire after 32 years at her job. She already called her employers and told them she won't be coming back to work.
As for any further plans, she said, "I'm going to go hide in my bed."
Wanczyk has two adult children, a daughter and a son.
Her mother says she got a call early in the morning.
"It has been very exciting. She woke me up at one o'clock yesterday, last evening, and she was sobbing and crying and I couldn't understand a word she was saying, and 'Mommy, I have to come over,'" explained Wanczyk's mother, Marsha.
Lottery officials had originally said that the winning ticket was sold at a store halfway across the state in Watertown, sending a flurry of reporters to the store ahead of its 6:30 a.m. opening. But the lottery issued a correction at 8 a.m. saying it was actually a $1 million winner that was sold at that location.
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"When manually recording the names of the retailers that sold the jackpot winning ticket and the $1 million winning tickets, the information was transcribed incorrectly," the Massachusetts State Lottery said in a statement. "We apologize for the confusion this created and remain thrilled that a jackpot winning ticket and two $1 million winning tickets were sold here in Massachusetts."
Michael Sweeney, the state lottery's executive director, stressed that the mistake was the result of a "human error," and that the lottery's internal systems always had the correction information for the locations, the prize amount and the numbers involved.
"Still happy, but what can we do?" Marjeet Paaur Khan, an owner of Handy Variety in Watertown, said of the mix-up that had him temporarily thinking the $758.7 million ticket had been sold at his store.
Wednesday night's numbers were 6, 7, 16, 23 and 26, and the Powerball number was 4. Wanczyk said she selected the numbers using family birthdays and her lucky number 4.
In addition to Handy Variety, Massachusetts had another $1 million winner who matched five numbers. That winning ticket was sold at Sandy's Variety in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood.
Bob Bolduc, who owns 30 Pride locations in Massachusetts and Connecticut, said the $50,000 his store will receive for selling the winning ticket will be donated to charities in western Massachusetts.
"We're happy for the customer and we're happy for the charities we're going to give our commission to," he said. "They're all local, because we support all local charities anyway. They'll just get a little bonus."
Bolduc said he expects to see a spike in lottery sales at his chain, noting that in the past year alone his stores have also sold two $4 million winners and four $1 million winers.
"That will resonate with lottery buyers," he said.
No one has matched all six balls in more than two months, so the jackpot grew after every drawing. It sometimes grows in between drawings.
The odds of winning the giant prize is one in 292.2 million.
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Almost a million additional players won prizes totaling more than $135 million, according to game officials. The jackpot now resets to $40 million.
Powerball is played in 44 states as well as Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.