Florida Lottery officials say Gloria MacKenzie of Zephyrhills and her son in Jacksonville knew the night of the drawing that they had won the record $590 million Powerball jackpot.
If so, they did a masterful job of disguising their sudden fortune to the outside world. Jacksonville neighbors of Scott MacKenzie said they found out that he had won the May 18 drawing only when TV trucks and reporters descended upon their residential street Wednesday night. Until then, Scott and the man he lives with didn't let on.
"Maybe they were inside doing their happy dance, but they weren't doing it out here," said Teri Godfrey.
MacKenzie, who is getting half of his mother's payout, acted in ways that hardly suggested a mountain of money was coming his way, Godfrey said. For instance, in the last month she was fielding quotes for a new roof, and after one contractor visited her, Scott and his housemate came over to ask if they could get an estimate in hopes of getting the best bargain.
In addition, about two weeks ago, they were busy pruning the canopy in their backyard, perhaps an odd activity for someone who not only could afford a landscape architect, a work crew or a brand new mansion.
"Their behavior hadn't changed," said Godfrey, who said her discussions with Scott MacKenzie were limited to those shared while the two neighbors spent time in their backyard gardens. "They were doing things they always did. I didn't have a clue, and I didn't because they played it cool."
Neighbors and other associates in Jacksonville respected the wishes of the MacKenzies, expressed through the media, to remain private. Godfrey and other neighbors wouldn't reveal other tidbits of information, saying they wanted to respect their privacy.
A receptionist at Soler & Palau USA Inc., a Jacksonville ventilation fan company, said MacKenzie hadn't worked at the company for "some time." But pressed for more details, she said she had been told not to comment any further out of respect for Scott's MacKenzie's privacy.