Lottery winner Mavis Wanczyk (right) and Massachusetts Treasurer Deb Goldberg

Credit: Craig LeMoult/WGBH News

Chicopee Woman Wins Second Biggest Lottery Payout In North American History

August 24, 2017

A longtime hospital employee in western Massachusetts quit her job Thursday morning. And while that’s not something that normally makes headlines, her reason for quitting was newsworthy. This woman won a lottery jackpot worth nearly three quarters of a billion dollars.

Mavis Wanczyk of Chicopee was leaving her job at Mercy Medical Center Wednesday night with her friend Rob, a firefighter, who suggested they check the winning numbers of the big Powerball lottery. Wanczyk had bought a ticket that afternoon.

“And I went, ‘It's never going to be me. It's just a pipe dream I've always had,'" she said. But then the numbers he started reading sounded familiar. "And I go ‘I have that! I have that number! I have that!' And he goes, ‘Let me see that ticket, because you just won!’"

Wancyzk didn't believe him. "He says, ‘Sign that ticket now,’” she remembered.

The shock was so intense she wasn’t sure she’d make it home, so her friend followed her to make sure she got there safely.

Wanczyk has worked in a clerical job in the nursing department of the hospital for 32 years.

“I'm not going to say I'm the richest person in the world. I can't say I'm the poorest person in the world," she said. "I make do with what I have.”

Now she’ll be making do with considerably more. Wanczyk took the lump sum option, and after taxes she'll take home more than $336 million. The lottery says this is the second largest lottery jackpot ever in North America.

Wanczyk said she was hoping to retire from the hospital in 12 years, but her scheduled has now changed. “I’ve called them and told them I will not be coming back,” she said with a laugh.

Oftentimes, big lottery winners take a while to come forward, and might never speak to the press. But the 53-year-old drove to the lottery headquarters in Braintree Thursday morning and spoke to the press with her mother and sisters at her side, as she chewed gum.

“I just wanted to do this," she said. "I want to just get over, done with. And then everybody would just leave me alone.”

There was a bit of a mix-up Thursday morning, as the Massachusetts Lottery announced the wrong store, one in Watertown, as the seller of the ticket. The actual seller will get $50,000, which he says will be given to local charities. The state and local governments are also getting some money out of this deal. State treasurer Deb Goldbeg said about $24 million of income tax will go to the state.

“Tax revenues have been pretty lean as of late," Goldberg said. "And so this is an added bonus that will benefit everyone in the state. In addition to that, as the Powerball was rising, it generated a lot of sales." And that revenue is sent to cities and towns.

“The profits of the lottery go back in unrestricted funds to every community," Goldberg added. "It's the crossing guard. It's the extra shoveling that needs to be done.”

Goldberg said she had some advice for Wanczyk and her family, as they face their own windfall. “I highly encouraged them to first find a very, very good lawyer and advisor. And to think about very carefully how they'll manage those assets,” she said.

Wanczyk will likely get to that point, but for now, she says she has other plans.

“I'm going to go hide in my bed,” she said.


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