Powerball lottery winner lookalike creates stir by paying tab for 180 at Plant City restaurant

Published June 12, 2013

It may have been a case of mistaken identity or a rare form of lottery fever.

Either way, close to 200 people got treated to dinner Sunday at BuddyFreddy's in Plant City by someone who appeared to be Gloria C. MacKenzie, the 84-year-old Zephyrhills woman who stepped forward last week to claim the largest single jackpot in American lottery history.

Whether it was MacKenzie is unknown, but that hasn't stopped speculation at the restaurant near the Thonotosassa Road exit of Interstate 4.

"It sure looked like her," manager Stephanie Reaves said. "She looked like the woman on TV."

Reaves said she was accompanied by another woman and a younger man. They ate, left around 4 p.m. and then the woman returned, offering to buy meals for 180 diners.

The tab: close to $2,600. She even gave $50 to each of the five servers.

"Everybody got up and applauded and started hugging her," Reaves said. "In my 35 years in the restaurant industry, I've never seen anything like it."

But when asked later, "She said she wasn't the one who won, but she sure fit the description."

Rich Shopes can be reached at or (813) 661-2454.