“They had clearly been preparing for this. They took all this time to get everything in order,” Bishop said.
Minutes after the announcement, a dozen reporters in Zephyrhills were camped outside MacKenzie’s gray duplex, which backs up to a dirt alley and is across from a cow pasture.
Neighbors were surprised by her good fortune.
“She didn’t say anything about it. She’s so quiet and secluded. She’s usually in the house,” said James Hill. “I’m very happy for her. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer person. She was always pleasant and smiling.”
Another neighbor, Don Cecil, joked, “I hope she gets a better place to live.”
MacKenzie’s neighbors offered few details about her life. They said she mostly kept to herself, but they saw her take short walks along the street and exchanged pleasantries with her.
Her house, situated among mostly mobile homes and pre-fabricated houses, has a chain-link fence with a sheet-metal roof and an old TV antenna.
MacKenzie retired to Zephyrhills more than a decade ago from rural Maine with her husband, Ralph, who died in 2005.
Back in her hometown of East Millinocket, Maine, relatives and friends were surprised to hear of her good fortune.
Robert MacKenzie, Ralph’s brother, said the couple met just after World War II after Ralph got out of the Navy. He went to work in the town’s paper mill, laboring as a technician for almost four decades.
He said the couple raised four children in East Millinocket, a town of under 2,000 people in northern Maine. A daughter and son still live in East Millinocket, another son lives in Florida and another daughter lives out of state, possibly in Massachusetts, he said.
Robert MacKenzie said he didn’t know his sister-in-law had won until a reporter called him.